Police on Long Island are searching for a violent criminal who allegedly attacked and robbed a mother at gunpoint while she was putting her daughter into her car seat at a shopping center.
Surveillance video released Tuesday by police shows the suspect sneaking around and hiding behind cars in the parking lot outside of a Michael's store in Commack around 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 15.
As the victim was putting her 2-year-old daughter into the car, he comes up behind her and hits her in the head with what appeared to be a gun, then forced her to get into the back seat, police said.
The suspect asked the woman for her car keys, which is when police said the victim's phone rang. He took the phone from her, and she hit the panic button on her key fob, sounding the car's alarm.
The man then took off with her phone, hiding behind other cars as he ran away.
"We would like to commend this victim for her composure during the incident, and her presence of mind to activate the key fob which scared the suspect off," said Suffolk Count Det. Lt. Michael Crowley. "We don't recommend people fight in these circumstances."
Many who frequent the shopping center were shocked to hear about the mid-afternoon attack.
"I feel it’s very scary that you cannot feel safe in a parking lot or a shopping center especially with your child, and be threatened by some thug with a gun," said Ann Sheleck, of East Northport.
Police said that they released the video nearly two months after the incident because they were working on some investigative leads that didn't pan out, and now are asking for the public's help. They stressed that they believe it is an isolated incident, and have not had any reports of anything similar happening, wanting to emphasize that it is not a common occurrence.
There is also a $2,000 CrimeStoppers fast cash reward for anyone who has information that leads to an arrest.