CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Tanger Outlets in Riverhead.
Tanger Outlets is hiring more private security guards to patrol the shops and parking lots after a woman was attacked in a public bathroom at the mall Tuesday afternoon, the center’s management said.
“Our first concern is always the safety of our customers and employees,” said general manager Janine Nebons.
A 67-year-old woman was inside a public restroom in Tanger 1 near the West Elm outlet store about noon when she was attacked by someone who was hiding inside another stall before the mugging, Riverhead Town police said.
Police said that as the woman tried to exit her stall, the suspect pushed her back in, putting one of his arms around her neck while trying to force her to the floor, but he ran off after a witness entered the bathroom.
The woman suffered minor injuries in the attack, police said.
She said the outlet center would take whatever additional precautions necessary to keep employees and customers safe.
“We want to have a strong security presence at our shopping [center],” she said. ”We want people to see them and know that they’re here.”
While Ms. Nebbons said the outlet would hire more guards, she declined to detail what other security measures were in place, saying that disclosing the existence of cameras or other measures would compromise the systems.
The suspect — described by police as a “young looking” black male between 5-foot-6-inches to 5-foot-8-inches in height, clean shaven and slim, wearing a dark hoodie sweatshirt — remains at large, police said.
Ms. Nebons said she and her staff were “horrified” by the attack, and wish the victim a quick recovery.
“I’ve been here since the center opened and we’ve never had an incident like this happen in 20 years,” she said.
Tuesday’s incident was not the first assault to occur at the mall in recent memory; however, one which occurred last month involved two people who knew one another.
In September, a Calverton man was arrested after he beat and stabbed his girlfriend at Tanger Outlets last month, holding her hostage and threatening to kill her during the assault, according to county prosecutors. The man forced his victim to drive to an area behind the outlets before stabbing her, authorities said.
Ms. Nebons declined to comment on that September incident since it’s an ongoing case, calling Tuesday’s attack an “isolated incident.”
Cops have asked anyone who may have information about the attack to call police at 631-727-4500.