SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — Brittney Black saw her attacker for just a short moment in time, but his face is forever etched in her mind.
“Every night as soon as I try to go to sleep it plays in my head over and over, just him looking at me,” she said.
She’s relived the moment she was attacked around 12:17 p.m. outside of the Walmart at 1868 Warrensville Center Road on June 7.
Her attacker has not been caught.
“He’s still out there,” she said. “Is he watching someone else?”
Black said it started as a quick errand run to grab some food to grill and swimsuits for her kids.
“It was hot that day,” she said. “I went to Walmart. I went in. I had a list and I made sure I had everything I needed to get.”
When she left the store, she noticed a man near her car. He walked past her a couple of times while she was loading her trunk and she said when she unlocked her car he looked directly at her. She thought maybe he was going to try and steal her car so she locked it.
“That’s when he just lunged at me. He was grabbing at my neck and shirt. He just kept tugging, kept tugging and I’m swinging and swinging,” said Black.
Black put up a fight. She said she only had one thing on her mind: her children.
“This man cannot do this to me. I have to get home,” said Black. “I'm just thinking like ‘oh my god this cannot be it. This cannot be over.’”
She said it felt like a lifetime of fighting for her life.
“I didn’t know if he was going to pull out a gun, a weapon, anything,” she said. “I swung again and I got him one good time and I just watched him run.”
The suspect ran and, according to South Euclid Police, left in a white van described as a Chevy E-350 van with a tow hitch and padlock on the rear doors, the release said. The vehicle also has damage to the rear driver-side wheel well and an offset front license plate.
The suspect stopped attacking Black after her necklaces popped off. Joe Di Lillo with South Euclid Police Department said after watching surveillance footage, it’s clear, he targeted Black.
“He'd been watching her and at the moment she was most vulnerable, which is when she was loading her groceries in her vehicle is when the suspect attacked the woman,” he said.
Black said she wants everyone to have their guard up.
“Women, particularly, be aware of your surroundings pay attention, you have to. I don’t care if it’s broad daylight, it was broad daylight when this happened to me,” she said.
Di Lillo said Black did what she should’ve done: fought back.
“I think she acted properly. I think in that situation, you don't want to go quietly. You want to make a lot of noise,” he said.
But he echoed Black’s warning, everyone should be aware of their surroundings.
“Set the phone down, be aware of what's going on around you, monitor your environment, monitor your surroundings. It is so very important to make sure that you can get to your vehicle safe,” he said.
The suspect got away with only one of the two necklaces Black was wearing.
“My Mother Mary necklace, it’s the symbol of protection,” said Black, describing the necklace that was found. “It was sitting right on the driver’s side on the ground face up and I said ‘wow, it’s my necklace.’”
A reminder that her suspect may have broken the necklace, but did not break her spirit.
“It could have been a lot worse but I guess Mother Mary had my back that day,” she said.
If you know anything about the attack, call the South Euclid Police Department.