SAN FRANCISCO (Tara Moriarty/KTVU) - San Francisco Police are trying to figure out who threw bleach in a homeless woman's face in the city's Tenderloin neighborhood, causing her to go blind, at least temporarily.
Sources told KTVU that the assault stemmed from an argument and now investigators need the public's help to track down the suspect.
The attack happened on Sunday 7:30 p.m. on the corner of Eddy and Mason.
"This woman is crying and crying and crying," said Ethel Hays, who's lived in the Tenderloin neighborhood for years.
Nearby surveillance video shows a 53 year old woman stumbling into frame, she eventually sits, rubs her eyes and rocks and back forth in pain.
Police say she had just been assaulted by a man in his 20s- using a most unusual weapon- bleach.
"What I seen was some guy running away," said Harry Carr Jr, who frequents that corner.
Witnesses say the confrontation started in front of the California Grocery and Liquor Store where a crowd of people had gathered to drink alcohol.
The victim says a man threw bleach in her face. She then turned the corner from Eddy street over to Mason Street and sat slumped against a building. Surveillance video shows that she leaned up against this wall, rubbing her eyes for several minutes until paramedics arrived.
"She was like, 'Aghhh!' and I wanted to help her but I couldn't because I didn't know what the situation was," said Carr. Many passersby walked by the victim, not realizing that she had been injured.
"They were trying to wash her eyes out with optic solution," said Hays. "She was yelling, she 'couldn't see, she couldn't see!'"
"As a result of this attack she did lose vision at the scene, but at this point it's unclear the extent of permanent damage," said SFPD Ofcr. .Grace Gatpandan.
Police say there's no indication that the victim and suspect knew each other and it's unclear if the suspect suffered from mental illness.
"In this case it is an aggravated assault investigation so regardless that person if he does need mental health help he will get that ," said Ofcr. Gatpandan. "And he'll still be responsible for the crime against his victim."
The attack occurred blocks away from the area where an San Francisco police officer suffered chemical burns after bleach was poured on him from an open window in 2016. In that case, the female suspect was arrested.
Anyone with any information on this case is asked to call SFPD.