Photo by Alexander Nguyen
Photo by Alexander Nguyen

An Irvine man was behind bars Wednesday on suspicion of an unprovoked attack on a 75-year-old woman who was out walking her dog.

Craig Andrew Ledbetter, 51, was booked on suspicion of aggravated assault, elder abuse, resisting arrest and animal cruelty and was being held at the Orange County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to Irvine police Lt. Bill Whalen.

Police responded to a call of a “man acting strangely on Rockwood Street” about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Whalen said. Responding officers found the suspect naked and “swinging a stick aggressively,” he said.

Police ultimately had to subdue him with a stun gun, Whalen said.

The victim, who remains hospitalized with a broken arm, bruises and other injuries, lives several houses away from the suspect. Her son-in-law, Neil Fitzsimons, told ABC7 the family moved to the neighborhood three months ago.

He said the suspect had been yelling expletives just before his mother- in-law was attacked from behind and knocked to the ground.

Her attacker “punched her repeatedly in the chest, knocked her to the ground, apparently sat on top of her naked,” Fitzsimons told Channel 7. “Her eyes are swollen shut. She can’t see; she’s essentially blind at the moment.”

The suspect took the woman’s dog, which later escaped, Whalen said. He said the black poodle was found unharmed late last night by police and returned to the family.

Whalen said officers had stopped Ledbetter some hours before the attack.

“He had been acting bizarrely, but the officers … did not have justification to take him into custody at that point,” he said.

Neighbors said Ledbetter lives with his two children. His ex-wife answered the door and told ABC7 that he’d been acting strange the past few days.

“I want him to get help,” she said. “I don’t want him to come back.”

— City News Service 

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