Los Gatos police looking for man who punched woman in the face

Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police are trying to locate a man who punched a female in the face in an unprovoked attack.
January 9, 2014 10:41:20 AM PST
Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police are trying to locate a man who punched a female in the face in an unprovoked attack. Police say the assault may be related to a phenomenon known as the "knockout game," where people sucker-punch people walking by for fun. A woman was attacked at a strip mall on Blossom Hill Road in Los Gatos.

The attack happened outside a dance attack studio on Monday afternoon. There were plenty of witnesses, but no surveillance video that would give police a better look at the suspect they're trying to track down and arrest.

The attack caught the woman off-guard. One minute, she was dropping off her daughter for a ballet class, and the next, people were coming to her rescue after she was punched to the ground.

"Then I went outside; I saw the lady, she was sitting on the chair and she was crying," Manny Singh said.

The speed of the attack even caught witnesses off-guard. Their description of the suspect could fit so many people -- an African American man about 5'9 to 6' tall, in his early to mid-20s, slender, with short brown hair. He was wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans and a white baseball cap.

The ballet teacher says her student's mother is recovering.

"She's really shocked; it was a really traumatic experience and I think that's the most emotional part that's the hardest," ballet teacher Mariana Sobral said. "Physically she's fine. That's basically it."

The upscale Los Gatos community is now dealing with a crime that could target anyone at any time. Residents and visitors alike say they're thinking of ways to protect themselves while the suspect is at large.

"I think pepper spray is maybe a good idea, but if you're being sucker-punched, you're not going to see it coming so I don't think there'd be enough time to react," Gina Oliva said. "Me, I think it's just safer to walk in pairs if we can."

Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police turned down an interview request, but in their news release, they said they're investigating if this is the "knockout game" seen in other parts of the country where assailants surprise their victim with a strong punch to the face with the goal of knocking the person to the ground.

Some women say they will take even stronger measures to stay safe.

"I have a couple gals that have Tasers they're now walking around with," Lucia Galindo said. "I have a knife. I hope I don't have to ever use it, but I have to be careful, and I have to do whatever measure to protect myself. It's just not as safe place it once was."


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