The attack was senseless and brutal — and the man who did it is still on the run, Los Angeles County deputies say.
Darlecia D’Andrade, 53, was working the early-morning shift June 16 at a Mobil gas station in Harbor City, California, when a customer made a small purchase and then asked to use the bathroom, according to the sheriff’s office.
But moments after the man walked into the restroom around 6 a.m., he came back out and again approached D’Andrade, video shows. This time he asked the clerk if she could fix the toilet.
D’Andrade and the customer walked back to the restroom and went inside, video shows.
That’s when the brutal attack occurred — and while it wasn’t caught on video, the clerk says she remembers it well. Authorities just released video of the interaction leading up to the attack, hoping it will help the public identify a suspect in the aggravated assault case.
“I couldn't believe that this customer was attacking me,” D’Andrade told KABC earlier this month. “The minute I turned around, he just struck me.”
The man slashed the clerk across her face and mid-section, according to the sheriff’s office. Authorities said he used an unknown object; KABC described the weapon as a knife.
“I felt my lip burning,” she told KABC. “I moved my hand, and blood was just gushing everywhere, so he ran out.”
After he had fled the convenience store, the man hopped into a four-door red sedan and drove south on Vermont Avenue, authorities said. The vehicle’s front grille had vertical slats, and it possibly had chipped paint or a sticker on the frame of the driver’s door.
D’Andrade — a mother of six — told the TV station she has no clue why she was targeted.
“I just want to say to him, you know, I meant you no harm,” she said. “I have to forgive you because of my belief in God.”
D’Andrade went to the hospital to be treated for “significant injures” following the attack. She has been released, but she hasn’t been able to go back to work, authorities said.
Authorities described the suspect as a 5-foot-10, 20-year-old Hispanic man with dark hair who weighs between 160 and 170 pounds. He was wearing a green and black hat that said “I (marijuana leaf) weed,” with a red shirt and black pants.
D’Andrade didn’t recognize the suspect, authorities said.