Police are searching for a woman seen on an amateur video savagely beating another woman as the victim's 2-year-old son watched and pleaded for the violence to stop.
"Police in this county deal with this type of violence everyday. Yet, this video is physically sickening to watch," Salem Chief of Police John J. Pelura III said Wednesday.
The suspect in the case has been identified as Latia Harris, 25, of Salem, who is facing charges of aggravated assault and two counts of making terroristic threats, Pelura said. She has not yet been apprehended.
A video showing the violent attack had been posted for a brief time Tuesday night on Facebook before it was taken down. Law enforcement and others were able to obtain a copy of the video.
The person who took the video appears to have happened upon the incident and began recording, probably using a cell phone. The video shows several others watching the beating and recording it on phones while the victim's toddler son tries to intervene on behalf of his mother, kicking at the assailant.
The assault took place Tuesday evening on a path that leads through a grassy and partially wooded area between the McDonald's restaurant on East Broadway and the Harvest Point Apartments on Grieves Parkway.
According to Pelura, officers were called to the entrance to Harvest Point "for a woman who was covered in blood and appeared to have been assaulted" Tuesday around 7:10 p.m. The chief said the unidentified victim was "disoriented, confused and bleeding from the face."
Pelura said the victim said a woman named "Tia" who works at McDonald's assaulted her and "accused her of spreading rumors about her and her manager." In the video the suspect is dressed in what appears to be a McDonald's restaurant employee uniform — a burgundy shirt and black pants.
As bystanders watched, the victim is thrown to the ground and beaten about her face and kicked in her back by the suspect, the video shows. During the beating the suspect continued to rant, using foul language and saying something about possibly losing her job.
The victim's toddler son yelled for the beating to stop and kicked at the suspect's legs several times. The victim is seen being punched at least 20 times and bleeding profusely.
At one point, Pelura said, and it is clearly seen in the video, Harris threatened to kick the victim's son in his face. The video shows the assailant spitting on the victim and walking away, asking those recording the incident not to post it on social media.
The victim, a 27-year-old Salem woman, is seen left on the ground with blood in her hands from the beating to her face.
The victim was taken to The Memorial Hospital of Salem County, Mannington Township, for treatment. Pelura said the fact that bystanders watched and recorded the incident and did nothing to stop it is sad.
"There is a moral and social breakdown in the fabric of our society which is clearly evident when a woman gets pummeled in broad daylight in front of her child while a dozen people pull out their phones to record the incident instead of calling for help," Pelura said. "There is so little regard for human life — by the actor and the bystanders."