Elderly woman attacked protecting Stow Lake birds

July 2, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Francisco police are looking for a man they say assaulted an 82-year-old woman who was simply trying to protect the geese in Golden Gate Park.

For frequent visitors of Stow Lake news about a possible assault on a senior citizen is surprising. James Tuoto is at the lake every weekday and says word of the alleged assault is out among the community of seniors who are frequent visitors.

"There's so many people that walk this lake, if something like that was to happen, somebody would have went to her rescue, right away," Tuoto said.

According to police, the alleged assault happened on the west bank of Stow Lake Friday morning. Police say a child was possibly harassing the geese, so the woman approached the child and told him to leave the birds alone. That's when a man, who police presume is the child's guardian, confronted the 82-year old-woman.

The man pushed the woman as she talked to the child and she fell, hitting her head on the pavement, according to San Francisco Ofc. Gordon Shyy. Police say the man and child stayed with the woman until her husband arrived and they drove home. But she later started feeling sick.

"About four to five hours she felt ill, possibly throughout the afternoon, she went to the hospital and that's when the police department was called to investigate this incident," Shyy said.

At Saint Mary's Hospital police say she was admitted with some cuts on her arm and a head injury that was potentially life threatening. She has since improved, but remains in the hospital.

Since this an alleged assault on a senior citizen, the San Francisco Police Special Victims Unit is handling the case. Investigators there are hoping anyone who saw what happened will call with information.

And for those who spend plenty of time at Stow Lake, it's disheartening that someone might have been attacked for defending the birds.

"They really love these things, you know," Tuoto said. "It really helps them with their lives, it gives them something to look forward to every day, come out here and feed the birds, it's crazy, but they give them names."

Right now police don't know what charges if any might be filed in this case because they don't have the other side of this story.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the San Francisco Police Department Special Victims Unit at 415 550-1088.


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