Update: City mental health worker strangled, choked during carjacking outside Whole Foods

A city mental health worker was attacked during her shift Sunday night. Photo: Emilie Raguso (file photo)

The woman who was attacked outside Whole Foods in West Berkeley on Sunday night was “choked and strangled” repeatedly and “felt at one point that she could lose consciousness,” police said in a statement released Tuesday.

The woman is a psychologist with the Berkeley Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team who was on duty at the time of the call.

The mental health worker was dispatched to the scene after a man at Farmburger, at 1313 Ninth St. just south of Whole Foods, was threatening to harm himself. But when the officer arrived, the man was nowhere to be found. The mental health worker had parked at Whole Foods when BPD dispatched her.

A short time later, according to police, 24-year-old Eric Bruylant forced his way into the woman’s vehicle, then attacked her. She was choked and strangled and felt she could lose consciousness, authorities said. Bruylant and the woman were strangers, police said.


After a struggle, the woman was able to get out of her vehicle and Bruylant drove away with her cellphone.

Police said Bruylant crashed a short distance away, however, then ran from the car. Officers quickly caught up with him and took him into custody at gunpoint.

Bruylant was identified by the victim and a witness.

According to police, he told officers “he was trying to kill the victim and he wanted to take her vehicle. He also admitted to taking her phone.”

Bruylant was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, robbery and attempted carjacking, according to police. He is being held without bail at Berkeley Jail and is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.