Three attacks at two Safeway stores in Morgan Hill are prompting some residents to fear heading to the grocery store and police to issue automated phone alerts to keep residents up to date.
City Councilwoman Marby Lee, who has been trying to get the word out about the attacks, said she's advising people to be more careful.
"If you can, go shopping during the day,'' Lee said. "That's what I'm doing now. My husband has asked me not to go late at night.''
She said it seems as if everyone is talking about the mysterious attacks.
"There's a buzz, you can just feel it in the air,'' she said. "Grocery shopping is something every one of us has to do. And this is creepy. What's this guy trying to do?''
Police are trying to figure that out, too. Weapons — including a stun gun, a pocket knife and fists — have been used in all three of the cases, and the suspect has not said a word or stolen anything.
None of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries in the attacks, which all happened after dark.
A message left Friday for a Safeway spokeswoman was not immediately returned.
The most recent attack was reported Thursday about 8:40 p.m. at the Safeway at 840 E. Dunne Ave. An 18-year-old Gilroy woman told police that soon after she parked behind Safeway, a man slipped into the back seat of her car. At that moment, she was retrieving a pocket knife from the glove compartment because she was aware of
The man grabbed her right hand and opened the folding blade with his thumb. He forced her hand toward her throat and placed the blade on her neck. He didn't speak, but hit her on the leg and "made grunting noises,'' the police report states. She screamed, startling the man, police said. He jumped out of the car, and ran away.
The woman drove to a friend's house to call police, who canvassed the neighborhood but found no suspects.
She described the man as being in his 20s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 200 pounds, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, dark pants and dark shoes. The description is similar in all three attacks.
On March 20, a 46-year-old San Martin woman was attacked while walking to her car about 11:30 p.m. at the Safeway at Tennant Station. A man who apparently had entered her car through an unlocked door attacked her, hitting her with his fist and using a stun gun on her head and neck — but he said nothing, police said. He did not demand anything and fled when a passer-by pulled up and heard the woman screaming.
Earlier that same evening, a 36-year-old Morgan Hill woman was leaving the Dunne Avenue Safeway when she noticed a man walking behind her. As she walked faster, the man also sped up, she told police. After she got into her car and locked the door, the man tried to open the driver's side door. He did not say anything, and the woman drove away.
The police department will use an automated notification system, e-mail and word-of-mouth to alert residents in Morgan Hill and unincorporated South County areas of these attacks. Police advise taking extra precautions and being aware of surroundings, especially in shopping center parking lots. Some police tips include: shop with other people, park in well-lighted areas and close to buildings, and ask for assistance to your car.
Anyone with information regarding either of these incidents is encouraged to contact Morgan Hill police detective Kevin Beilmann at (408) 779-2101 or the anonymous tip line at (408) 947-STOP (7867).
Contact Lisa Fernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 920-5002.