Port St. Lucie Police: Woman attacked after helping panhandler

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - Police are telling people to be careful around panhandlers.  The warning comes after a woman in Port St. Lucie gave money to someone in need and was then attacked. 

The 7/11 store on Port St. Lucie Boulevard is always busy.  There are cars outside at the gas pumps and people inside checking out.  However Tuesday night was very different.

“The lady was out there yelling for help,” says store clerk James McCann, “She started running over to us asking us to call the police.”

That woman is Marie.  She asked us not to show her face or reveal her last name.

“Last night I was having nightmares,” says Marie.

Port St. Lucie Police say a man and a woman were in the parking lot at 7/11 asking people for money.

“I gave him the seven dollars,” says Marie, “He grabbed it from my hand.”

She says the woman then began acting strangely.   Witnesses say the suspect, Erica Johnson, began throwing food at Marie and chased her inside the store.

“I don’t know what the lady was about to do to me,” says Marie.

Police say Johnson then got into her car and rammed Marie’s truck twice.  She also poured bleach inside.  Johnson was charged with assault and resisting arrest. 

Marie’s family was shocked to hear what happened.

“It hurts my heart like it touches a spot that you can’t explain considering it’s your mother,” says Marie’s daughter Shantell Balusma.

Port St. Lucie Police say Johnson is homeless.   Her male companion was not charged in this incident.

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