Female Worker Who Fought Off Assault, Hit Suspect With Pepper Spray: 'He Tried To Push Me Down On My Knees ... To Do Things'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police say they are searching for a brazen attempted sex assault suspect in Manhattan.

The man walked into the Fabriano Italia luggage and handbag store around 1 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 30 near West 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue in Midtown and exposed himself to a female employee, according to authorities.

Surveillance video shows the man walk behind the counter. The clerk tells him to get back and he slaps her hand away.

It gets worse.

Police say they are searching for a brazen attempted sex assault suspect in Manhattan. (Credit: NYPD)

Next, he shoves the clerk into a shopper. Police said he then demanded she perform a sexual act on him. That’s when the customer intervened, trying to get him to leave.

Too shaken up, the staff member spoke to CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge on Wednesday but didn’t want to show her face on camera.

“He tried to push me down on my knees … to do things,” she said.

With his pants pulled down, the man exposes himself to the customer and then he pushes her aggressively right out of the door, the video shows. Left alone, the clerk defends herself.

“I got scared. I took pepper spray. I had one girl here. She help me a lot. She was trying to protect me, but he got very angry,” the clerk said.

She sprays him right in the face and runs out the door.

The man is seen stumbling around trying to get out of the store. He uses the wrong exit before falling to the ground. He eventually takes off.

Once gone, the clerk runs back inside, locked the door and called police.

“As soon as the situation finished, I got all the emotions. I started to shake, to cry,” the clerk said.

Now all of the staff are on high alert and just want the man caught. They are all keeping pepper spray on hand to protect themselves.

“She was just shocked. As usual, we let customers touch everything, try everything. She just couldn’t do anything,” an employee named “Nita” said.

Police describe the man as in his mid-20s, about 5-foot-9 and just under 200 pounds, with tattoos on his hands.

CBS2 spoke to the store’s owner who said since its a pop-up shop, it’ll be leaving the location soon. The owner is thankful to get away not only because of this incident but also because the business has suffered dozens of thefts.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) for Spanish. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.