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Riverside Smoke Shop Owner Beaten With Hammer During Robbery

RIVERSIDE ( — The owner of a tobacco shop in Riverside was severely injured Tuesday after she was beaten with a hammer during a robbery.

The 52-year-old unidentified woman was attacked around 12:30 p.m. inside Smoke Shop Plus at the corner of University and Chicago avenues.

The suspect, who police described as homeless, entered the store and repeatedly hit the woman in the head to get her away from the cash register.

The man then took money and fled the scene.

A UPS driver came inside the business and saw the victim stagger from a back room, according to police.

The driver, identified only as Jason, didn't want to be interviewed, but said the woman's face was covered with blood. He called 911 before she collapsed.

"The female after the incident did gain consciousness and out of fear for her own safety, locked herself inside the business," said Officer Bryan Galbreath of the Riverside Police Department.

Officers had to shatter the front door of the smoke shop in order to bring the unconscious woman to safety.

She was immediately taken to Riverside Community Hospital.

Customers and workers from nearby shops described the victim and her husband as "very nice people."

They said the family owns an additional tobacco shop in Riverside.

Police searched on the ground and the air for the suspect, but were unable to locate him.

Authorities said security video showed the attacker to be black, bearded, 35 to 40 years old, about 6 feet tall and 220 pounds. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt and gray sweat pants.

Anyone with information on the incident was encouraged to call the Riverside Police Department at (951) 826-5700.

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