AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police are investigating a violent attack at a South Austin grocery store. Police say a man cut a woman’s throat while trying to rob her.

The woman left the H-E-B store at South Congress Avenue and Oltorf Street, just after 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. As she was walking to her pickup truck, which was parked beside the far back corner of the building, a man attacked her with what police describe as an “edged weapon.” They say he cut her throat, they struggled, and he took her purse.

The woman walked back toward the store, trying to get help. A security guard heard her and used his orange security vest to put pressure on her wounds until EMS arrived.

Police report she is now out of surgery and expected to recover. Because her wounds were so severe, she was unable to give officers a detailed description of the suspect.

Detectives believe the attack was random, and they are now searching for the suspect. Police dogs picked up a scent, which led them south on South Congress Avenue. Officers found the woman’s purse abandoned two blocks away. Robbery detectives are also reviewing the store’s surveillance video.

If caught, the suspect will face a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

An H-E-B spokeswoman said the company will not be commenting on the investigation. The South Congress Avenue store will offer counseling services to its employees. The spokeswoman also said the security guard who helped the woman is shaken up, but EMS crews say he most likely saved the woman’s life.

Protecting yourself and others

Less than two miles from where the attack happened, Brandon Phillips was warning his students at the Fit and Fearless studio about the importance of awareness and self-defense.

“You do not decide when you get attacked,” said Phillips. “People attack you, and you are either prepared or you are not.”

Phillips is offering a free Krav Mega class on Thursday night in response to the attack. He says Krav Mega is a martial art geared towards real-life scenarios similar to the one that happened at H-E-B. It is not the first time they have offered free classes after such an attack.

“A lot of what we talk about is situational awareness and being aware of what is going on. This is not the first attack in a parking lot.”

While Phillips helps people protect themselves, Alex Sanchez owns a security company to protect others. Although he is not associated with H-E-B, he said his officers at U.S. International Protection and Investigations Services are trained to focus on the “weak areas” where there could be poor lighting or a greater opportunity for a criminal to strike in late-night parking lots. He said customers should try to avoid those dangerous areas and utilize on-site security if it makes them comfortable.

“I have never declined a customer to be escorted to their vehicle, especially at late hours and the morning hours,” said Sanchez.