Update: A suspect was arrested following a frightening attack on a real estate agent in Encino that was captured on security camera video, Los Angeles police said Wednesday morning. Find the latest developments from NBC LA here.
Los Angeles police are looking for the visitor to a Sunday afternoon open house in Encino who was seen abruptly and violently pushing the real estate agent to the ground and then bending over her as she screamed.
It happened outside the front door and in view of a security camera.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
The shaken agent, who asked not to be identified, said she had left the house after coming to fear the man was trying to lure her into a back room. He followed her outside.
"You saw the house. You're done. That's it," she can be heard saying to him.
The man then looked up at the security camera. They shook hands, and he appeared to be about to walk away when he suddenly leaned forward and pushed the woman backwards into an area with vegetation and concrete.
"I'm not really sure what I did," the woman recalled in an interview with NBCLA. "I just remember yelling loudly for help."
The woman said that when the man leaned over, at first she thought he wanted to steal her necklace with a jeweled cross. Instead, he put his hands again on her upper chest, and as she continued to scream, ran off.
The agent suffered bruises and abrasions to a knee and an injury to her back so painful she was unable to sleep Sunday night, she said.
The video, which is hard to watch, has sent shockwaves through the real estate community.
"You wouldn't imagine something like this would happen in daylight, especially when a camera is recording," said broker Bob Siegmeth, on whose Keller-Williams team the agent works.
Siegmeth arranged for a self-defense instructor to be at Tuesday's staff meeting.
"I think the big thing is to educate our agents and make sure they know what's going on," he said.
The attacker had come to the same house for an open house there a week earlier, the agent recalled. The man's conduct then caused her concern, at one point indicating he wanted her to check something on the plumbing for the washer and dryer, and then without saying anything further, suddenly reaching down and physically lifting her up.
A week later, the man returned just minutes after a second agent left, leading to suspicion he had been surveilling the house. He said a friend of his was interested in buying. She recalled seeing another odd visitor, shirtless, to the earlier open house and recognized him walking by on the street a week later shortly after she was attacked. She wondered if the two had somehow conspired.
Sunday afternoon, after the agent went outside, the man repeatedly tried to persuade her to return inside to inspect something or get him water, which appeared to her to be transparent pretexts.
"He tried so many times, and no way I was going inside," she said.
The agent said the man appears to be in his 40s and is cross-eyed. At one point, she heard him speak a few words of Arabic. He had signed in as "Tom."
The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the case as a battery and attempting to locate the man.
The agent's real estate office Monday received a call from an agent at another brokerage who spoke of recognizing the man as someone who had gotten out of line at a previous open house.