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Exclusive: 70-Year-Old Woman Attacked In Long Beach While Helping Homeless Community

LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — Christine Barry, a 70-year-old Long Beach resident, runs a nonprofit organization called 'Ashlee's Homeless Fund,' and spends much of her time giving back to the homeless community.

Bixby Park

Now, she has become yet another in a concerning trend seen across Los Angeles County over recent months - a string of attacks by homeless individuals on innocent people. Most recently, the murders of Brianna Kupfer and Sandra Shells, as well as reports of the homeless man that attempted to sexually assault two women within the span of 20 minutes in the Fairfax District Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, she was attacked by one of the very people she was working to help, while handing out supplies to the homeless community at Bixby Park in Long Beach. Known as a popular area for families, tourists and locals, thanks to its proximity to the beach, dog parks and open areas, Barry wanted to make sure that frequenters of the park knew what happened to her, so it wouldn't happen to anybody else.

Barry detailed the jarring event to CBS reporters, recounting the events leading up to the attack, "He said he didn't want a tent, and 'I said ok that's fine,' and we walked away probably 15 to 20 feet away from where he was."

As she continued to make her rounds throughout the park, the man approached her and punched her in the face.

"This guy hit me and knocked me down," she said, "He was continuing to try to hit me."

Luckily for Barry, some of the other people in the area came to her aid, including "one 68-year-old homeless guy with a walker," and another man who was there.

"Without them, this would have been way worse," she said.

christine barry, homeless attack

The aftereffects of the incident were still apparent on Barry's face - a swollen jaw, a black eye and bruising - despite her insistence than she was okay.

"I'm tough, or at least I claim to be," she said, noting that the suspect hurt his own hand during the attack. She also mentioned that she had hurt both of her knees and her wrists, and as a result she was forced to wear a brace on her left wrist.

Regardless of her status, Barry wanted to make one thing clear - not all unhoused people are dangerous.

"I've never experienced anyone being aggressive towards me in the three years I've done this," she said, "I go out to the camps I go all over the city."

But she is concerned that her attacker will be released too soon, citing the "catch-and-release" policies of currently Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon.

"Over and over, the homeless people have told me 'If you don't care about the laws, why should we?'" she said, "If it could happen to me - and I'm really aware - it could happen to anybody."

The suspect, Samuel De La Riva Rojas, 30, is currently held on $110,000 bail.

Another woman has recently come forward and told Barry that she believes she was attacked by the same individual in a separate incident.

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