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Maureen Gallo: Shopping trip in Northampton interrupted by a bizarre attack

To the editor:

This past Saturday, during Northampton’s busy Bag Day promotion, I was shopping with a friend for a few hours of fun.

While taking a lunch break at The Teapot restaurant, I was approached from the back by a stranger who reached around me and slapped or punched me in the face so hard I almost passed out. This person then ran out of the door of the restaurant.

My friend took off after her but failed to catch up. Other diners and the restaurant owner expressed concern for me as I was foggy for a few moments and unable to process what had just happened. A man who was dining with his family came over and made sure I was functioning OK before he went back to his own family outing.

The restaurant personnel called the police at my request as I was concerned that this might happen to others if no one tried to find this woman. Children would especially have been at risk as the strength this woman showed was significant. We all only saw her from the back as she retreated from the restaurant. She was carrying many bags but they did not look like shopping bags.

The police took my report and called her description in to the other patrol cars. As you can imagine, there were many shoppers on the sidewalks that day. To my knowledge, they have not located this woman, and I don’t know what her motivation to hit a stranger might have been. The incident will, however, give me pause before deciding to travel from Westfield to Northampton to shop in the future.

Maureen Gallo

Westfield

Legacy Comments2

Just before reading Ms. Gallo's letter I saw a story on CNN's site about a possible new "fad"--seemingly random hit-and-run, one-punch assaults dubbed the "knockout game." It seemed too bizarre to be true, and I truly hope this incident isn't a sample of it. Best wishes to Ms. Gallo for a speedy recovery, both physical and emotional, from this unfortunate experience.

I am terribly sorry for Ms. Gallo's frightening experience. Truly, I am. I hope that the kindness and concern of those around her helped her deal with this startling trauma. However, I don't understand why she would say that this would make her not want to shop in Northampton again. This is not an everyday experience. Northampton is not a frightening place to shop. It is welcoming and fun and sociable. Was that a fun experience? Of course not. But there is no reason to deny herself ever shopping on our downtown again. In any moment in our lives, we might, unfortunately, encounter someone who is acting dangerously or irrationally. Like in Westfield. Or NYC. Or Montague. Or not. We might encounter people who make our day brighter. I am hoping Ms. Gallo's experiences many a bright day. In Northampton or Westfield.

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