91-year-old widower attacked, robbed while visiting wife's grave in California

The 91-year-old man was hit with a rock and then robbed during a visit to the cemetery where his wife is buried.
Image: Mission City Memorial Cemetery
Mission City Memorial Cemetery in Santa Clara, Calif.Google

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By Phil Helsel

Police in the San Francisco Bay area are looking for a suspect in a "ruthless and unprovoked" attack on a 91-year-old widower who was hit with a rock while visiting his late wife’s grave earlier this month.

Santa Clara police said in a statement Thursday that the attack happened Sept. 14 around 10:45 a.m. at Mission City Memorial Park cemetery.

Santa Clara police Capt. Wahid Kazem called the attack an act of pure cowardice.

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"This is completely and utterly an unprovoked and ruthless assault on one of the most vulnerable members of our community,” Kazem told NBC Bay Area.

A sketch of a suspect alleged to have assaulted and robbed an elderly man visiting the grave of his wife.Santa Clara Police

The attacker, who was described as a possibly Latino or Hispanic man between the ages of 35 and 50 with grey slicked hair, hit the elderly man from behind with a rock as the victim was sitting on a lawn chair. He was then robbed.

The suspect escaped on foot and then a mountain bike, police said.

"This incident appears to be an isolated one," police said in a statement, but the department encouraged anyone to report any suspicious activity at that cemetery or in any other public place.

The victim, who visits his wife's grave nearly every day, was taken to a hospital for treatment after the attack, police said. NBC Bay Area reported that he is now recovering at home.

The police department on Thursday released a composite sketch in the case, which is being treated as felony assault, elder abuse and robbery.

Denise Martin, who bicycles through Mission City Memorial Park, told CBS station KPIX of San Francisco that the victim is "a lovely gentleman who stays here for an hour or two visiting her," referring to his wife's grave. She called the attack "sickening."

Santa Clara is a city of around 116,000 about 40 miles southeast of San Francisco and east of Mountain View.