Homeless Santa Rosa woman in critical condition after assault with metal object

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A 45-year-old Santa Rosa woman was in critical condition with major head injuries and a broken arm Saturday, after a man struck her repeatedly with a piece of metal during a Friday evening assault.

The woman, who was homeless, was attacked around 5:49 p.m. outside the Dollar Tree store near Sebastopol Road and the Joe Rodota Trail, police said. The area has long been a gathering place for those experiencing homelessness.

Santa Rosa police said the suspect, arrested a short time after the incident, also was homeless. He was identified as Bersain Hernandez-Perez, 35.

It is unknown what caused him to hit the woman with what initially was reported as a steel rod. The two were not believed to be in a dating relationship, and investigators could learn nothing about the confrontation from witnesses or the two people involved, Police Sgt. Hiroshi Yaguchi said Saturday.

“Witnesses just saw this man hitting this woman with this steel rod, and they called it in, and we were able to detain the suspect,” Yaguchi said.

Police called to the scene also recovered a “weapon,” a piece of angle iron lying near the Sebastopol Road sidewalk, where the assault occurred, Yaguchi said.

Hernandez-Perez was arrested for suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon and felony battery, as well as possession of a fraudulent government document. He also had two outstanding misdemeanor warrants for his arrest, police said.

He was booked into the Sonoma County Jail and was being held on $35,000 bail, according to jail records. The woman had undergone surgery and was expected to survive her injuries, Yaguchi said.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 707-521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.

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