STOCKTON (CBS13) — The founder of a well-known organization in Stockton designed to help the homeless was attacked over the weekend by the very group she was there to help.
Stockton Police said the incident happened around 6:30 p.m. Sunday night at Anderson Park in North Stockton.
Officers said Nancy Lamb of Stockton 209 Cares was there dropping off leftover food from an Easter event when she and her husband said they were viciously attacked.
“There was an event at Anderson park where the group was feeding the homeless and during that event several homeless people got into a fight and one person got knocked to the ground, so one of the organizers went over to check on that person and then four homeless people — three men and a woman — attacked the organizer causing severe injury to her eye,” said Stockton Police Spokesperson Joe Silva.
Lamb sent CBS13 a picture of her injuries. In the photo, Lamb has a bruised face and an eye wrapped in bandages.
When board member Brenda Vazquez saw the photo, she said, “I was devastated.”
Vazquez said she was with Lamb all weekend long and was surprised to get a phone call, Sunday evening, that her friend and coworker was in the hospital undergoing emergency surgery.
“I was with her at the Asparagus Festival, then an Easter event for the kids and then to get that call; we were like ‘what’s going on?’ It was devastating,” she said.
Vazquez said it was a busy weekend for administrators at the organization.
“She worked Friday morning at the Asparagus Festival and then we worked as a group Saturday afternoon,” she said. “We put her through the ringer too. I was the fryer, our coworker Roxie was the dipper and Nancy was the finisher for two groups so we had her exhausted.”
On Sunday, Vazquez said, Lamb was involved in an Easter event for children.
“We had her at the event over at St. Mary’s for the kids and we had over a thousand eggs, a lot of baskets and from there she went over to the Gospel Rescue Mission to drop off what baskets were leftover as well as hot dogs, cupcakes and cookies,” she added.
After the visit, Vazquez said Lamb still had some leftovers so she headed to Anderson Park to feed the homeless.
“All I know she was feeding somebody, they made a phone call, some people came over, they attacked her and she ended up getting hit,” said Vazquez.
In a brief conversation with CBS13, Lamb said she underwent two emergency surgeries and was meeting with doctors Tuesday afternoon to discuss whether a third surgery would save her eye.
“They’re trying to see what they can do. They’re saying there’s a possibility of no eye in the future,” said Vazquez.
Word of the incident spread quickly amongst Stockton’s homeless community, prompting Lamb to post this statement to the Stockton 209 Cares Facebook page:
“I am not able to help people with food for a few, but I will be back in action in about a week. Please don’t pm (private message) me if you need help with resources. Please pm another admin. Thank you.”
Group administrators said they are going to push Lamb to take a break to allow her time to heal.
“It’s not going to stop Nancy. It’s not going to stop us at all. We’re going to continue on,” said Vazquez.
They’re urging anyone with information about the suspects to contact Stockton Police.
“If you witness something like this, stand up,” said Vazquez. “It’s terrible to see a woman get abused. I’m disabled in my body, but if I see something, I’m going to either step in or make a phone call.”
Lamb said her husband was also knocked unconscious during the fight but didn’t require any medical treatment. Police are now actively looking for the suspects they believe are all in their twenties.
If you have any information, officers urge you to call the Stockton Police Department. They said callers can remain anonymous. In the meantime, Silva said the department will increase patrols around the park until the suspects are caught.
“We’re still trying to figure out who exactly committed this senseless act of violence against her because all she was doing was going out and feeding the homeless and that’s something she’s very passionate about,” he said.