Vicious attack at Chestnut Street store marks a crime spike in the Marina

It was a nightmare for an employee at the usually subdued Monkey on Chestnut jewelry store in the early evening of Feb. 27.

The female staffer, who usually works alone in the small store, was chatting up a local jewelry designer. A man carrying a skateboard came into the shop and perused the merchandise for a while. The designer left the store about 7 p.m. The man in the store asked questions about this and that, and cajoled the employee to leave her seat in the front window to go to the back of the store.

“The guy must have noticed there was a back room,” said Monkey’s owner, Robert Hemphill. “He zapped her several times with a stun gun, and got her into the back room and closed the door. He didn’t count on her fighting back, I think. She sure fought back.”

The back room was soon a shambles. He threw her body so hard against the wall that it broke the sheet rock, punching a hole in the wall.

“Glass was everywhere,” says Hemphill. “She was cut badly by the glass, and she required hospitalization, and that meant getting staples in her head for her wounds.”

Hemphill reports, “The man kept saying to her, ‘I’m not trying to rape you!’”

They struggled for an interminable half hour. She fought to avoid being cornered by her assailant. He finally gave up and ran away.

The perp grabbed $60 out of the register on his way out the door.

“I think this was an afterthought,” says Hemphill. “I’m convinced this was not a robbery. He took no jewelry – wasn’t really interested in any jewelry. No, my employee was the target. If she had not fought so hard, well, I don’t want to think too much about what could have happened. He made no effort to conceal his identity. His intentions were rape or beyond rape.”

The assailant got on his skateboard and headed east.

Speaking of identification, the victim (the Marina Times does not identify victims of crimes unless they request otherwise) says her attacker is a light-skinned African-American man, about 5 foot 9 inches tall with very short hair. He’s described as having an athletic build, about 200 pounds. He’s well spoken. His eyebrows may be waxed, his nails manicured.

It was reported that police lost him in the crowds that were downtown for the Chinese New Year’s Parade.

“I worry a lot about this,” says Hemphill, who is also an active participant in Marina neighborhood affairs. “There are lots of businesses here where female employees work by themselves.”

Next door, at a restaurant where there are sidewalk tables, many customers seemed oblivious to the bleeding, struggling victim of the crime as she staggered from the store.

Of note, a number of armed robberies were reported in the Marina during the past month. One occurred at the International House of Pancakes on the evening of Feb. 10. Three suspects reportedly entered the restaurant with weapons and demanded money from the cashier and two customers. No one was hurt in the incident.

On March 18, at 4:23 a.m., a man walking at Beach and Cervantes was accosted by two men and a woman. The victim was robbed of his wallet and cell phone at gunpoint. The robbers got away in a waiting car.