Crimewatch: Police search for suspect in violent muggings

Crimewatch: Police search for suspect in violent muggings

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Police are searching for a man who hides out in public restrooms and attacks his victims.

APD says that's the method of operation for one man, who uses unnecessary violence to steal whatever he can.

One of his victims, John Kimbrough, talked exclusively with FOX 7's Jenni Lee.

"It hurts all the time," said Kimbrough.

His eye socket had to be reconstructed and his entire forehead is now metal.

"I don't even know what it looks like up there," said Kimbrough.

He showed FOX 7 the scar from the surgery. Pictures, taken right after the attack, show Kimbrough's bloody, swollen, and beaten face.

The 60-year-old was brutally assaulted while using the men's restroom at Wendy's, in the Hancock Shopping Center off Red River in Central Austin on December 23.

He was on his way to work as a security guard at a student complex in West Campus when he stopped for a restroom break. He remembers every detail.

"I turned to the urinal, and heard the stall door close. And the next thing I know, I was hit, he hit me behind the right ear," said Kimbrough. "I remember turning around asking what'd you hit me for? Next thing I know I'm hit again."

Police say the suspect was hiding in the stall, waiting until there was only one person in the bathroom. Then he attacked.

"In his right hand he had a 10 inch pipe wrench. It was red with a white stripe across it," said Kimbrough.

After the second strike, Kimbrough says he decided not to fight back.

It may have saved his life.

Police say the purpose of the violent attack was robbery.

"He rolled me to my side and took my wallet," said Kimbrough. "All I had was five one dollar bills. I would have given that to him."

Surveillance images at the Wal-Mart in the Norwood Plaza off 183 show what the suspect looks like.

Police describe him as a white or Hispanic man with blond or brown hair. He's in his 20's to 30's, has a muscular build, and was last seen wearing a white straw cowboy hat, eye glasses, a dark colored hooded sweatshirt, denim blue jacket, blue knee length shorts, and dark colored sandals.

Police say the suspect also assaulted a second man at a McDonald's at Capitol Plaza in East Austin.

Kimbrough was attacked at 5:13 p.m. The second victim was attacked about an hour later at 6:14 p.m.

"It was pretty much senseless," said Detective Tony Hogue, who has been working the cases. "He did not have to be this violent. Our victims didn't show any signs of resistance or force or anything else like that. He never mentioned a word to them either. It was all physical. It was hit them as hard as he could, as fast as he could and try to get any property off of them."

Police released some images in December when the crimes happened. Only one tip came in. It's what led to police to the suspect at Wal-Mart.

Detective Hogue says he believes the suspect tried for a third attack at Wal-Mart but there were just too many people around.

The trail is now cold.

"He may not be here and that's the reason we believe we didn't get any tips the first time around because if this person is a traveler then he may not be known locally," said Detective Hogue. "And that makes it hard for us to investigate these cases and that's why we ask the public. Maybe you were out of town, maybe you were in town visiting, maybe you have a family member that saw this."

These robberies have even made Detective Hogue be more aware of his surroundings. That's his advice to the public. 

"Even things I didn't consider. Whenever you are in a bathroom stall, take a few seconds to look around to check out your surroundings. Make sure there's nobody in there and if somebody is in there, keep it in the back of your mind that person may be up to no good," said Detective Hogue.  

Without yellow paper strips marking where his kitchen cabinets are, Kimbrough says he bumps his head into them all the time. He can no longer tell how far or close objects are to his head. He also can't wear hats anymore. When he gets headaches, Kimbrough can't take over the counter medications.

"The doctors gave me some hydrocodone," said Kimbrough.

Despite these life changes, the soon to be 61-year-old isn't angry. He doesn't hold a grudge.

Kimbrough says he just has too much to live for, his son, daughter, and five grandchildren.

He wants everyone to be aware of their surroundings.

As for justice, like his favorite movie, Tombstone poster reads, "It's Coming."

"Between the lord and the law, justice will come to him," said Kimbrough.

Kimbrough just hopes justice will come before someone else gets hurt.

Anyone with any information is urged to contact the Austin Police Robbery Tip Line at 512-974-5092.

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