HOLLYWOOD HILLS (CBSLA.com) — A homeless man was arrested Friday on suspicion of assaulting "NCIS" star Pauley Perrette outside her Hollywood Hills home.
The alleged attacker has been identified as 45-year-old David Merck, who has been booked on a charge of felony battery.
The ambush happened shortly after 5 p.m. on Thursday night as the actress walked to a guest house to meet her architect, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
"I got attacked by a severely mentally ill homeless person," Perrette explained to Entertainment Tonight's Kevin Frazier during an exclusive interview. "He punched me in the face and he pinned me down by my arm. He told me he was going to kill me and I know that he was."
The star said her attacker only let her go after she prayed her heart out. Then she went into shock and collapsed on the sidewalk.
That's when a neighbor, who was walking his dog, went right past her. "I just assumed that she was homeless because she was disheveled," said Tony Williamson. He said he had no idea what was going on. Otherwise, he would have tried to help. "I hope she makes a full recovery," said Williamson.
Perette told Frazier she messaged two friends for help and immediately drew a sketch of her attacker.
"I texted my friend next door and my church friend cop," Perrette added. "I immediately drew a police sketch of the guy who was headed towards Hollywood Boulevard with murder in his eyes."
One of her friends tailed the man to the 7-Eleven at Cahuenga Boulevard at Yucca Street, where he used the sketch to help identify Merck before he was arrested.
Perrette feels her attack was random. Not only does she not have any ill will against the suspect, she was more concerned about him than for herself. "My heart breaks for that guy, and it breaks for every single person that's out there on the streets," she told Frazier.
The star, an advocate for civil rights and the homeless, said she feels the incident was a wake up call. She told Frazier, "We need more for the homeless people out there and we need to help these people."
The actress released a statement detailing the assault on her Twitter account. (Warning: image may contain some explicit language)
Entertainment Tonight released an exclusive first look at Perrette's sketch of her alleged attacker.
Merck is being held on $100,000 bail.
The incident has sparked the question over whether the city of Los Angeles has become desensitized to the rising homeless problem within the city.
The response raises the question of perception on the homeless community in Los Angeles, and where personal responsibility may be when it comes to helping those in need.
"It really speaks to a process of dehumanization," Los Angeles Community Action Network's Pete White said. "It only takes a moment to say 'we are all people, we are all human, and we need to check in on one another'."
LA City Councilman Jose Huizar who co-chairs the homeless and poverty committee, identifies this so-called immunization as a problem.
"All of us now are getting immune to what it means to see people laid in the street, and in this day and age, that's unacceptable," Councilman Huizar said.
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