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Elderly Oakland woman attacked by customers while working at laundromat

Oakland woman working at laundromat attacked
Oakland woman working at laundromat attacked 02:57

OAKLAND —An elderly laundromat worker in Oakland said she is afraid to go back to work after two customers attacked her. And it was all caught on camera.

The surveillance footage showed two women harassing, threatening, and attacking the worker for eight minutes.

Ruth Wilde, better known as Ruthie, said it was the longest eight minutes of her life.

"I was very afraid, and I'm still afraid," said Wilde.

The incident started on March 16, just after 7 p.m. at Woody's Laundromat near Lake Merritt. Wilde said she told the two women they close at 8 p.m. and the last wash is at 6:30.  

She pointed to a sign on the wall listing the information. Surveillance footage showed the customers left with the clothes and drove away in their car.

But they returned about 40 minutes later, just after 7:40 p.m. Wilde said they started harassing her, saying their clothes were missing from a washer.

They told Wilde they wanted to see the surveillance video to see who took their clothes.  Wilde said she kept telling them she didn't have the clothes and she had no access to the surveillance cameras.

Surveillance footage then showed a woman in a black hat grabbing Wilde by her neck area, dragging her around, shoving her to the ground multiple times, and punching her three to four times.

The footage showed the other woman in a red hat and yellow shirt pushing Wilde to the ground with force.

"They punched me again and hard enough that my nose was bleeding.  I saw stars and lights because they hit me so hard," said Wilde.

There were a lot of customers at the laundromat.  The footage showed the two women threatened to hurt the few customers who intervened.

"I was afraid that they were going to kill me or bash my head into the dryer," said Wilde.

Wilde called 911 and officers responded. Oakland police told CBS News Bay Area they cited the woman in the black hat. Police released both women.

"It's a misdemeanor, and they can't do anything about it," said Wilde. "Very angry, very angry at the system."

Wilde said her mouth still hurts, a week after the attack.

"That type of assault, is that considered a misdemeanor," asked Robert Ma, one of the laundromat owners.

Ma said it should also be considered a case of elder abuse. Wilde is 65 years old and weighs 88 pounds.

"Everybody knows Ruthie. They love Ruthie. Nobody ever had any problem with her.  She's super nice. Our regulars love her," said Ma.

Wilde has worked at Woody's for 27 years. But she hasn't come back to work since the attack.

"Because I'm afraid they're going to come back and do me in," said Wilde.

Oakland police would not release the suspect's name. They said the woman who was given a ticket will have to appear before a judge at a later date.

But Ma and Wilde worry the suspect will get away with simply paying a fine, or worse, have her case dismissed.

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