Caught on Camera: Customer Punches Female Clerk

The blow permanently damaged the victim's eye and could cause her to lose sight

By Samantha Tata
|  Saturday, Sep 28, 2013  |  Updated 11:24 AM EDT
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A man in his late 30s is wanted for punching a 23-year-old woman over a $1.41 cigar. The blow inflicted permanent damage to the employee's eye. Kate Larsen reports from Lakewood for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sept. 27, 2013.

A man in his late 30s is wanted for punching a 23-year-old woman over a $1.41 cigar. The blow inflicted permanent damage to the employee's eye. Kate Larsen reports from Lakewood for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sept. 27, 2013.

A 23-year-old California woman was punched in the face by a man nearly twice her age over a cigar that cost less than $2, and investigators are asking for the public’s help to find the attacker.

The victim was working behind the counter at a Chevron gas station at Lakewood and Del Almo boulevard in Lakewood when the assailant tried to buy a $1.41 Swisher Sweet cigar.

After waiting in a long line, the customer handed the employee a $1 bill.

When she told him he needed 41 cents more, he threatened the clerk and tried to grab the cigar from her hand, sheriff’s officials said.

The worker stuffed the cigar under the counter and told the man to leave, officials said.

Leaning over the counter, the man then winds up, punches the woman between the eyes then runs away.

"I just blacked out for awhile, just looking for my glasses," victim Yadira Lara recalled.

The blow re-injured Lara's left eye from a childhood injury and she's now left with permanent damage to her eye that could leave her blind.

Surveillance video from inside the gas station shows a line of customers behind the attacker, none of whom help the women after she was struck.

The attack happened shortly after 1 p.m. on Sept 7, but authorities first revealed the details and surveillance video Friday.

Police are searching for a black male, pictured at right, caught on video punching the female employee.

He is described as between 35 and 45 years old, between 6 feet and 6 feet 4 inches tall, and weighing about 215 to 225 pounds. He was seen on surveillance video with black hair with a slight mustache and beard.

Anyone with information in the case is urged to call the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station at 562-623-3500. Anonymous tips can be called into LA Crime Stopped at 800-222-TIPS, by texting the letters TIPLA plus a tip to CRIMES (274637), or by visiting http://lacrimestoppers.org.

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