SANTA MONICA, Calif. (CBSNewYork/CBSLA.com) — An Upper East Side family visiting southern California was subjected to a bizarre and unprovoked attack this week, as they sat minding their own business in a coffee shop.

Barbara and John Lowy told KCBS-TV, CBS2 Los Angeles they had made what was supposed to be an uneventful pit stop to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf café in Santa Monica, along with John Lowy’s daughter, Jennifer Kaplan.

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“This woman came in rather stridently walking through the door, and sat right down at the table next to us,” Barbara Lowy said.

The woman was on her cellphone, and was shouting and cursing to whoever was on the other line, the family said.

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The woman was well-dressed and didn’t appear to be homeless, the Lowy family said. But the family said they got increasingly uncomfortable with her erratic behavior.

It was when the suspect mentioned “a woman in black and white” during her phone conversation that Barbara Lowy realized the suspect was talking about her.

“All of a sudden she said, ‘That woman in black and white,’ and I look over, and my stepmother goes: ‘I’m wearing black and white. I think she might be talking about me,’” Kaplan told KCBS-TV.

Barbara Lowy says she, her husband and her stepdaughter felt so uncomfortable they decided to get up leave. That was when the suspect allegedly came over and attacked her.

“Suddenly, I felt somebody pull on my hair, and all I remember is, I was spun around, and my neck snapped back, and all I could see was the ceiling after that,” Barbara Lowy said.

She suffered a fractured vertebra in the attack.

“She also said to me when I was on the ground, ‘I’m going to come back with a machine gun and shoot you,’” Lowy said.

John Lowy tried to stop the woman from leaving and punched her at the door. She still managed to get away.

“I was afraid for Barbara. I was afraid for myself. So I punched her. But she immediately just ran out the door – it was like I didn’t even touch her,” John Lowy said.

Barbara Lowy was taken to the hospital for her pulled vertebra, and now has to wear a neck brace until it heals.

The attack was caught on surveillance video, KCBS-TV’s Kristine Lazar reported. But the family said the café would not release it to them.

Santa Monica police were investigating.