DeKALB – Angela Valianos never expected a stranger to jump out of his car and hit her repeatedly when she questioned his driving outside a gas station early Monday.
Valianos says a tall, thin black man, likely in his 20s, with shoulder-length braids drove an older model maroon vehicle almost over the curb near Valianos when he parked next to her van about 12:15 a.m. She gruffly told him to slow down. Seconds later, he was punching her repeatedly against the glass door at Road Ranger, 1734 Sycamore Road.
"The first blow was to the left side of my head, almost directly on the ear, which threw me into the door," Valianos said. "After the first blow, it was so fast. He never stopped, right, left; he was going with both hands."
By Monday afternoon, DeKalb police said they were following leads they had on the crime and encouraged anyone with information to call a shift supervisor at 815-748-8400. Meanwhile, Valianos, 45, remained shaken that she had been attacked outside a gas station she's visited regularly for years.
"We can't be too comfortable," Valianos said. "The moment that we are comfortable, that's when we open ourselves up to be included in someone else's attack. ... You always have to be aware."
After a friend took photographs of her injuries Monday, she was surprised to see how swollen and bruised her back and neck were. She said she planned to seek medical attention soon; she said she decided against going to the emergency room immediately after the attack because she was worried she wouldn't be released in time to get her children to school.
"You can definitely see the anger this person had on my face," she said.
Valianos said the attack lasted about 30 seconds before a witness wedged open the glass door, and the man drove south on Sycamore Road.
Valianos wondered hours later if he had thought much about who he had harmed: Did he care if she was going through a divorce? If she had helped start TAILS and was active in the community? If she was facing her own struggles?
She wondered what would have happen if the witness hadn't been there. She remembered the sound of his blows raining down her and trying to shield her head with her hands. She remembered a seemingly odd detail: Before he hit her the first time, he took a cigarette from behind his right ear and put it in his mouth.
And she wanted police to catch him.
"I want him off the streets, because I don't want another person to feel the wrath of what he has done," Valianos said. "... He needs to be off the street. He needs to be accountable for what he did."