WEST LOOP — A West Loop woman on her way to spin class Sunday morning was attacked and robbed on the streets just moments after greeting her attacker with a "good morning."
The 33-year-old woman was walking to her weekend class just before 9 a.m. when she crossed paths at Aberdeen and Fulton with a man who knocked her to the ground with such force that she was briefly unconscious, she told DNAinfo Tuesday.
"I looked him in the eyes and said, 'Good morning,' and he immediately raged at me," she said. "I remember being hit like a football player would hit another football player, and my head hit the ground pretty violently."
The man took her gym bag and rummaged around in her vest pocket until he found her cellphone, she said.
The woman, whose name is being withheld because she is the victim of a crime, described the assailant as a slender black man in his late teens or early 20s wearing a bright pink hoodie and light-washed, torn jeans. His face appeared to have acne or a rash, she said.
Earlier surveillance footage, first shared on the True West Loop Facebook page, showed the alleged robber and a second person dressed in a red hoodie walking on Carroll Avenue between Racine Avenue and May Street moments before the woman was attacked.
The second man is later seen fleeing north with her gym bag and getting into the passenger seat of a car that drives away.
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The robbery took less than three minutes, leaving the woman bleeding from her head on the street.
As she regained consciousness, "My arms [felt] crippled in front of me, and I couldn't move them, but I could feel the blood coming from my head," the woman said. "I thought I was paralyzed or dying, so I just laid on the ground. I was screaming so loud."
Within minutes, neighbors rushed over to help her and called 911. One tried to stop the bleeding while another, who was a nurse, kept the woman awake and alert, she said.
"Those types of things I think are so beautiful," she said of the neighbors' aid. "The crime is horrible, but to know that people step up in that way for each other is really beautiful."
The woman suffered a concussion that has left her with dizziness and trouble sleeping. Her neck is swollen, and she has trouble opening her mouth wide enough to swallow whole foods. Two days after the attack, she could not bring herself to walk outside alone. When she tried to leave her home Monday, she burst into tears.
"The most violating thing is, I can feel on my body where he grabbed me," she said. "There's parts of me that hurt really bad that don't make sense, like he either fell on me or hit me."
It's been five years since the Washington, D.C., native moved to Chicago to work for charities geared toward mentoring students on the South and West sides. Now, as a leader with Noah's Arc Foundation — the arts- and sports-focused violence prevention initiative of former Bulls center Joakim Noah — she said her mission remains the same, despite the attack.
"I don't believe someone who has committed this type of crime is incapable of living a better life and being part of the solution," she said. "I'm not some martyr over here, but I want the best for every kid, and what a horrible thing [it would be] to feel that people don't believe in you when you've made a mistake."
Former Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah participates in his Noah's Arc Foundation event last summer, "Rock Your Drop on the Block," which included a peace march through the West Side. [Provided/Noah's Arc Foundation]
She also wants to bring attention to how the rapid gentrification of the West Loop has created an "undeniable tension" as people are displaced from their communities.
"These things are happening more, and there are reasons for that," she said. "It's not just property crimes; it's turning into violent crimes. To me, that's a big issue that needs to be addressed."
As news of the attack spread, some in the West Loop said they recognized the assailants based on the video footage. One woman said she called 911 when she saw them following another woman 20 minutes before the attack. Another said she herself was followed.
The victim said police sent a squad car to patrol the area after the 911 call, which was how a beat officer was able to get to the scene of her assault so quickly.
"I appreciate they were able to send out one beat officer, but they're so understaffed. That's all they could do," she said. "And it allowed people who had already been reported to commit this horrific crime."
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the 12th District office at 312-746-8396 or email CAPS012District@chicagopolice.org with the case number JA-471876.
Detectives are investigating. No one is in custody.