SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Police in San Francisco are looking for an assailant who struck a mother in the head from behind while she was walking her child on O’Farrell Street on October 17th.

Police released surveillance video which shows a woman holding hands and walking with her child. They are passed by a man going the opposite direction.

But then the man doubles back and comes up behind the woman and appears to punch her in the head.The woman and child then turn and quickly walk away. The woman and child were apparently not seriously injured.

Police on Monday also released an image of the suspect, who appeared to be an older African American male.

SF assault suspect

SF assault suspect (CBS)

One tourist KPIX 5 spoke with expressed concerns when asked about the attack.

“I mean, she had a child and still wasn’t safe,” said Dondi Jones, who was visiting San Francisco from Santa Rosa. “So it does make me nervous. I don’t feel completely comfortable.”

It happened just steps from the touristy Powell Street Cable Car line. But merchants say this area just two blocks from Union Square is has seen an increase in assaults and shoplifting.

“They get some t-shirts or sweatshirts and they run away. We don’t have time to catch them,” said Vicente Alfaro, who works in an area camera shop.

What concerned him most about the latest incident is that it involved a child.

“If this homeless [man] hit the child on the head forget it. It can kill them. If they have something in their hands, it’s very dangerous,” Alfaro said.

Police said the suspect could be homeless, but authorities aren’t sure.

David Thomas, who works the area as a security guard, told KPIX 5 it appears that the suspect was having some mental problems, which may have caused him to lash out at the woman.

“Of course I would try to help the lady. But there’s a lot of people like that, who walk around like ghosts, not a care to the world,” said Thomas.

Jones said it’s sad to see.

“But the bigger issue is the homeless situation and the mental illness that comes with the homeless. We need to come up with a proper solution for that,” Jones said.

Police are asking for the public’s help in locating the suspect so he can be questioned and taken off the streets for evaluation. Anyone who sees the suspect can call 911 to report him. The SFPD tip line if anyone can identify him is (415)575-4444.

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