IRATE DRIVERS fuming over stolen parking spots at suburban malls are known for giving the finger - but one woman is wanted by police in Cherry Hill for trying to bite one off.
Tonya Knight, 42, of Northeast Philly's Lawndale section, was headed into the Cherry Hill Mall just before 5 p.m. Saturday to get a bite to eat when she pulled her Saturn Vue into an open spot in aisle 18 near Nordstrom. When she got out of the car, two women were cursing her out, she said, calling her names. One got up in her face, before the pushing started.
Somehow, Knight's right index finger wound up in one woman's mouth during the melee and it barely escaped.
"I can feel she's biting down. She let me go and I looked at my finger and said, 'Yo, what the f---? You bit my finger off,' " Knight said last night from her room at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. "She said, 'That's what you get for taking the parking spot, you bitch.' "
Knight, her finger hanging on by a thin strip of skin, followed the two women into Nordstrom after calling 9-1-1, eventually losing them as they made their way into the mall.
"There was a lot of blood. I feel bad for Nordstrom's because it was all over the floor," Knight said.
Lt. Amy Winters, of the Cherry Hill Police Department, said the department often responds to calls for parking disputes at the mall.
"This is pretty crazy; this takes it to a new level," Winter said. "We've had verbal disputes that wound up with tires slashed but nothing of this nature."
Knight said she had dropped her friend off at the Bahama Breeze restaurant at the mall before looking for a parking spot. She said she noticed her attacker's car near an open spot, but said the woman didn't have her blinker on to reserve it.
"When I got out of the car, they were screaming at the top of their lungs, threatening me and calling me names," she said.
The alleged biter is wanted on charges of aggravated assault. She was captured on surveillance footage inside the mall. The assailant is described by police as a heavyset black woman in her mid-30s with "bushy" hair, possibly driving an older, dark Audi.
Knight said doctors aren't certain that her finger will heal properly - whether her bone will fuse back together. She also has to worry about infection. There's a concern about her job in customer service, as well.
"It's on my right hand and I'm righthanded," she said. "This could certainly change my job situation."
Tipsters with information about the woman captured on surveillance footage are asked to contact the Cherry Hill Police Department at 856-488-7828.