A woman in her fifties was blinded in a bleach attack in San Francisco on Sunday evening, and police are asking the public’s help in locating the suspect.
As reported by KTVU Fox 2 News, the incident occurred near the corner of Eddy and Mason Streets in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood at approximately 7:30 pm. Witnesses said a group of people had gathered in front of the California Grocery and Liquor Store to drink alcohol.
After some sort of confrontation within the group, a man who appeared to be in his early twenties allegedly poured a cup of bleach on the woman’s face.
San Francisco Police Department spokesman Officer Robert Rueca gave an account of the attack to NBC affiliate KCRA3.
“(The victim) was sitting down when a man approached her and told her to get up and go away, and then he walked away. He returned back to her with a cup in his hand — she believed it was bleach — and poured it on her, causing her to lose vision.”
In a surveillance video posted by KTVU, the victim can be seen stumbling around the corner and eventually sitting on the sidewalk, rubbing her eyes in pain.
Witness Ethel Hays told KTVU that the woman was “crying and crying and crying,” and that emergency responders tried to “wash her eyes out with optic solution. She was yelling, she ‘couldn’t see, she couldn’t see!'”
According to police, there was no indication that the assailant and victim knew each other. It is also unclear if the suspect suffers from mental health issues. Officer Grace Gatpandan told KTVU that the case is “an aggravated assault investigation, so regardless, that person…if he does need mental health help, he will get that, but also still be responsible for the crime he committed against this victim.”
The victim’s address was not listed in the police report. Officer Gatpandan told KCRA3 that this could either indicate she is homeless, or did not have identification with her at the time of the attack and was in too much distress to provide that information. The woman’s exact age is also unclear, with some reports listing her as 57 years old, and others 53 years.
The victim was transported to a hospital, and police have not yet confirmed whether her blindness is a temporary or permanent effect of the attack.
Sunday’s incident occurred just six blocks away from the scene of another attack in 2016, where a police officer suffered chemical burns after bleach was poured on him from an open window.
Anyone with information about the attack is asked to contact the San Francisco Police Department.
Feature photo: KTVU video screenshot