JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A woman working at a bicycle shop in Riverside was attacked Wednesday morning, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Police said a man on a bicycle stopped at City Cycle on Park Street about 10 a.m. and asked the store's manager for help with a flat tire.
She helped the man but told police that "he was acting suspicious" and "she walked back behind the counter, and armed herself with pepper spray, but eventually set it down," the incident report said.
Moments later, police said, the man tried to steal a bike and sprayed the woman with the pepper spray "then struck her on the forehead with a chair" before running off.
Patrick Graham, a regular customer at City Cycle, said he showed up at the store, found the door locked and called 911.
"Nobody showed up. So I looked inside, I see the store manager ... crawling on the floor in the back. (She) had blood on her arm. So I started pounding on the windows, trying to get her attention. Finally, (she) was able to make it over. In the meantime, I had already called police and rescue," Graham said.
A nearby business caught a surveillance image moments after the attack of a person running in front of the store. Police said they are reviewing the video and working to determine whether the person is the attacker.
The news of the attack has shaken people in the area, including Michelle Macon, who both lives and works in the area. She works at a bar nearby and said she's frustrated because the incident is the latest in a string of violent crimes in the neighborhood, including a murder at the nearby Blind Rabbit restaurant last year.
"It's pretty frightening considering I work about two blocks away and I live about six blocks away," Macon said. "Especially because I'm in the hospitality industry and the late nights and just even walking to your car when you're clocking out is a little bit frightening."
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said the way that the man used violence is different than the other crimes in the area. Now, police will have to look at the evidence, he said.
"Of course, they already have reports of all the robberies that have occurred in this area. So they'll try to compare the method that occurred in this robbery to others that have occurred. There may have been some that weren't in the media. So they'll take a look at all the robberies, look at time of day, race, to see if they can match it up," Smith said.
News4Jax spoke with the mother of the woman who was attacked. She said her daughter is out of the hospital and is recovering -- just shaken up more than anything.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-866-845-TIPS.