Journee Nelson can be seen in surveillance footage fighting the thief after he tried to take her mother’s purse on 2 November.
“I fought back. I had to save my mom,” she told reporters.
Her mother, Danielle Mobley, struggled with the thief — since named by police as Demetrius Jackson.
“We struggled over the purse. He pushed me down to the ground,” said Ms Mobley.
Journee sprung into action, hitting Jackson in the face before he pushed her down and took off running.
“That is when I let it go and figured he would take off,” Ms Mobley said. “I wasn’t expecting her to take off after him.”
The nine-year-old chased the man for five blocks but failed to catch him, 7 News Miami reports. He was apprehended two days after the attack.
On Thursday, West Palm Beach Police chief Frank Adderley gave Journee a medal and a certificate for her heroism.
“I wouldn’t recommend that you confront an individual like that but in the heat of the moment things happen,” he said.
“I bet he was shocked when she hit him right in the face because he definitely could tell on the video that he was not expecting that, and her actions were perfect timing in this particular situation.”
He added: “I think she hit him pretty hard.”
“I’m very proud of her that was her initial reaction,” said Ms Mobley. “I wish we, sometimes, things could be a little different because she is still dealing with this mentally.”
Jackson has since been charged with robbery and battery.
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