What was supposed to be a quick stop to drop off clothing at a church donation bin took a violent turn Saturday in Long Island. When 73-year-old Lorraine Lombardo stepped out of her parked but idling car to donate items outside St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, Doreen Dunbar, 50, allegedly tried to steal the vehicle.
Attempted Carjacking: What Happened in a Church Parking Lot
Police say Dunbar, who is reportedly experiencing homelessness, entered the driver’s seat of Lombardo’s 2013 Chevrolet Spark. When Lombardo realized what was happening, she hurried back to her car and grabbed the steering wheel. Dunbar then allegedly shifted into reverse and pressed the gas.
During the tussle, Lombardo fell, and police say the car backed over her legs. She’s now in the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. A spokesperson for St. Mary’s says parishioners are praying for Lombardo’s full recovery and for justice in the case.
According to police, after running over Lombardo, Dunbar crashed into a fence and guardrail. Then she took off on foot. After authorities located her with a K9 unit and a helicopter, she was arrested and taken to a hospital for evaluation.
Now Dunbar faces charges of first-degree assault and second-degree robbery. An arraignment date is still pending.
Such Desperation Is ‘Really Sad,’ Says Neighbor
Kathleen White, who lives next door to the church, describes running outside about 6:45 p.m. Saturday evening to see what all the ruckus was about. She told a local reporter, “There was a woman walking away and the woman on the ground was saying, ‘Stop here. She was trying to steal my car.’”
But while White was still trying to assess the situation, she says the suspect returned to the St. Mary’s parking lot. “She came back, and she was arguing with the woman on the ground saying, ‘It’s my car.’ So the two were arguing whose car it was. So I said well, the police can figure out whose car it is.” After White dialed 911, she says, the suspect took off on foot again.
Speaking to the media, White appeared to be dismayed by the frightening turn of events. “That’s just really sad that you’re that desperate to have to take somebody else’s car as they’re doing a good deed,” she said.
Online, some people say Lombardo is partly to blame because she should not have left her car running. Others are pushing back, saying the victim isn’t at fault. The incident also is sparking online debates about homelessness, crime, and possible solutions. Some people are calling for police to “round up” all people who are living on the streets. Others say communities must prioritize mental illness and addiction issues.