It began as a routine Sunday morning bicycle ride for Suzanne, a 60-year-old West Palm Beach resident. It ended in the most frightening moment of her life.
She was traveling along the Flagler Drive waterfront on the morning of April 8 when she noticed a man sitting near the Royal Park Bridge, waiting.
In a moment, Suzanne recalled, the man grabbed her, tried to reach into her backpack, then stabbed her in the chest before running away.
“The guy was sitting there waiting, and he just jumped me,” said Suzanne, who asked that she only be identified by her first name. “He just came at me, just rammed me with his hand, grabbed my bike to stop me.”
She recalled the experience Wednesday, four days after she was released from St. Mary’s Medical Center. Suzanne said the man managed to force her to the ground as he tried to reach into her backpack.
“I was just screaming,” Suzanne recalled. “He told me to, ‘Shut up, (expletive),’ took the knife out of his pocket, stabbed me once and pulled it out.
“I said, ‘Please don’t kill me.’ ”
West Palm Beach police have released both a photo and a video of the suspect. No arrests had been made as of Wednesday.
Suzanne said she did not recall seeing him before.
“It just happened so fast,” she said. “It was premeditated. If it wasn’t me, it would have been somebody else. He was just waiting for someone.”
The city’s Downtown Development Authority recently announced plans to increase the police presence along Clematis Street just north of the bridge, where another woman was stabbed last month outside a sushi restaurant.
Police arrested and charged Chad Bailey, 23, in that attack. Bailey later told police investigators the attack was prompted by others picking on him for being homeless.
On Tuesday, the Downtown Development Authority’s board approved $35,000 in funding to pay for an additional police officer to patrol the Clematis district over the next three months.
“These are not characteristic of our place at all,” DDA Executive Director Raphael Clemente said of the recent attacks. “We don’t have these incidents. To have two of these in a short period of time concerns everyone. We want to do what we can to help in addressing the community’s concerns.”
Suzanne said she did not believe what happened to her was an issue of homelessness and believes the city must address several factors to improve security downtown, including monitoring the actions of those frequenting bars.
“If you’re going to have what you want down there, the night life you have there, the serving of alcohol openly, it makes no sense not to (have extra security),” she said Wednesday.
“What happened to me is not a homeless issue. If f they want to really examine downtown, they have to look at all the factors.”
Suzanne is staying off her bike while she recovers from her injuries but said she plans to resume her rides when she’s healthy.
“I wouldn’t live here if I couldn’t do it. It’s the best part of living here,” she said.
Police are asking anyone who may have seen the suspect in the downtown area on April 8 is asked to call West Palm Beach police at 561-822-1823 or 561-822-1782, or Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County at 800-458-TIPS (8477).