A man has been charged with attacking a store’s employee and spraying his eyes with pepper spray on Chicago’s North Side.
James Sitkiewicz, 32, was charged Tuesday with armed robbery in relation to the incident.
Andrew Goth was attacked on Dec. 10 at CBD Kratom, the hemp product store where he works in the 20000 block of North Damen Avenue in the Bucktown neighborhood.
“My eyes are still swollen,” Goth recalled in the shop Tuesday during an interview with NBC 5.
He was blinded by pepper spray when a man posing as a customer attacked him from behind—but was able to fight him off.
“I broke loose, I spun off, I elbowed him,” Goth said. “We got into a scuffle behind my register.”
Goth ran out of the store and yelled for help. A witness wrote down the license plate number of the suspect’s car. Surveillance video obtained by NBC 5 shows the suspect and a woman parking a car on Dickens Avenue just before the attack. Moments later the duo are seen running back to the car from Damen Avenue.
Gene Pierson of Covenant Presbyterian Church in the neighborhood, says the community is fed up with crimes like these.
“We realize that we don’t have enough cops, so we are trying to be the eyes and ears of the neighborhood,” he said. “And to let people know that we are watching them.”
Goth said cameras have been installed at the store, too.
“I can’t believe all that right before the holidays—like, it’s kind of say—it’s very upsetting,” he said.