A California woman was walking home from work on Wednesday, talking on the phone with a friend, when a man suddenly grabbed her from behind, she said.
It was only 7 p.m. in downtown Santa Cruz when the attack began — still daylight, according to Sarah Shinsky, the 28-year-old victim who recounted the disturbing details in a Facebook post. Her attacker had been released from jail just one day earlier, jail records said.
Once the man grabbed her, he shoved her to the ground, Shinsky said. Next he tried to pull down her jeans, ripping off one of the buttons. Shinsky screamed as loud as she could for help. She struggled with the man — yelling “help me get him off of me” — for at least two minutes, she estimated.
“I saw life and death in front of my eyes and I didn’t want to give up,” Shinsky wrote. “I was in complete shock that this had happened to me on the normal walk and in such a public place.”
Finally, bystanders heard Shinsky screaming and came to help, she said.
“People surrounded us and kicked him off of me,” Shinsky told the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
But the attacker wasn’t done, according to Shinsky. The man kept lunging at her as a woman in a car stopped and pulled Shinsky to safety. Then the attacker began to strip off his own clothing “and started masturbating for everyone to see,” Shinsky said. Shinsky posted a photo of the naked man on Facebook along with her written account.
When police arrived, the suspect — Daisuke Muro, 40 — charged towards an officer and tried to punch him, police said. The officer fended Muro off, pulling him to the ground with the help of a witness, according to police.
Muro was arrested and booked at the Santa Cruz County Jail on suspicion of attacking a police officer and assault with the intent to commit mayhem or rape, according to jail records.
“He had a blank, unresponsive stare,” Detective Steve Pendleton, who interviewed Muro after the attack, told the Sentinel. “He didn’t seem angry; not sad or anything.”
Muro had been in jail a day before the attack, according to Santa Cruz County Jail records. He was arrested Tuesday on loitering charges, and released later in the day, records said.
Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills told the Sentinel that California’s mental health services are “completely broken.” After Muro’s Tuesday arrest, mental health evaluators looked at Muro and determined he couldn’t be taken to a mental health facility.
“We need to lobby the state legislature and the federal government to make sure we are able to put people like this away where they cannot hurt people,” Mills told the Sentinel.
Shinsky said she has bruises and cuts on her legs and arms, and that she hit her head on the ground when Muro pushed her. She also said she was disturbed by how long it took bystanders to come help her when she screamed.
“I think people are desensitized to homeless people screaming so they didn’t think twice about me screaming,” Shinsky wrote on Facebook.
Coincidentally, the Sentinel interviewed Muro last week for a story about homelessness. He spoke calmly and told the paper he had chosen to be transient. “I didn’t want to work anymore,” Muro said.
In response to the assault, Santa Cruz police are scheduling added patrols in the city’s downtown, KSBW reports.
Muro’s bail has been set at $100,000, according to jail records.