OAKLAND, Calif. - Former U.S. Senator from the State of California Barbara Boxer was assaulted in a robbery near her home in Oakland's Jack London Square on Monday. She says she is thankful she was not seriously injured.
Boxer, 80, appeared calm when she told KTVU she was walking by herself while talking on her cell phone when she noticed the suspects about 30 seconds before it happened.
Earlier in the afternoon, her personal Twitter account said that Boxer's cell phone was snatched by an assailant who managed to get away. The tweet was confirmed via email by Boxer's son, Douglas Boxer, an attorney.
Boxer was pushed from behind in her back by her attacker. The assailant then got in a waiting car with her belongings.
"I was walking around this neighborhood that I love so much," Boxer said about her daily walks in the area. She says she noticed a black sedan double-parked and that a young man came out of that car.
"I tried to cross the street and get away and he slammed me on the back and reached across me. He was behind me and grabbed my cell phone out of my hand," Boxer says, "I said how can you do this to a grandmother? I want to call my grandkids. Why are you doing this? He could care less and got into the car and sped away."
Boxer said fortunately she didn't fall. "My heart was pounding. My hands were shaking. I was glad I was on my feet."
She walked to a nearby Verizon store to get help.
"Scared, nervous. She just told me she was mugged and someone stole her phone," Verizon employee Joseph Heuken says he recognized Boxer as a customer whom he had sold a cell phone to just 2 days ago, the same phone that was stolen.
He loaned her a phone so she could call for help and waited for police to respond.
"I have to do what I have to do to help this lady," says Heuken.
A law enforcement source told KTVU the getaway car is the same one used in several vehicle break-ins in this area and in other parts of Oakland during a half-hour span prior to the attack on the former senator.
KTVU has also learned that the license plate on the suspect car belongs to another vehicle.
People in the area say it's disturbing the attack happened in broad daylight.
"They're so bold. I just can't understand it. It'd be nice if we had foot patrol police down here walking the area," said Oakland resident Marsha Caldwell.
Though Oakland Police Department did not identify the former senator as the victim, they did issue a statement that said the strong-arm robbery incident happened at 1:15 p.m. when the victim was walking along the 300 block of 3rd Street.
Boxer has a condo in the neighborhood. There was no suspect description available from the police.
Boxer said there were two suspects involved: the driver and the thief and that they appear to be in their teens.
Boxer said she's talking about what happened to caution others, "Be very aware of your surroundings anywhere you are these days.
It's nerve-wracking but all is well. I feel bad because I love this town."
Boxer hopes they’ll be caught so they can't do this to someone else.
Oakland police are investigating the case. In addition, Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $2,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest. Anyone with information is asked to contact OPD’s Robbery Section at (510) 238-3326 or the Crime Stoppers TIP LINE at (510) 777- 8572.
Boxer served in the U.S. Senate from 1993 until 2017. Her seat was filled by current Vice President Kamala Harris.
Associated Press contributed to this report.