Grass Valley Community Rallies Around Elderly Victim

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GRASS VALLEY --

As the Grass Valley community continues to pray for Mary Grace Tassone, the 78-year-old woman in critical condition after an attacker struck her in the head Sunday morning outside her church and stole her car, police are now one step closer to bringing her alleged attacker to justice.

Monday afternoon Grass Valley Police identified their suspect, 50-year-old Alan Kierkagaard, and shared his picture, caught on a convenient store security camera Saturday, not far from St. Patrick’s church.

Police say they’ve had a few run-ins with Kierkagaard in the area since he came to Grass Valley in May, for minor issues like sleeping on public property — the latest incident happening at 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning in Condon Park, just hours before police believe he assaulted Tassone.

Investigators say they don’t know where Kierkagaard is, but believe he has Tassone’s car, a 2013 gray Honda Accord, license plate number 6ZHX462.

In the meantime the Grass Valley community rallies for Tassone to make a full recovery.

“There’s still a long way for her to go. She’s not out of the woods as they put it," said James Mabry, a coworker and fellow St. Patrick's parishioner.

Mabry was among dozens of supporters and family members visiting Tassone at Sutter Roseville Hospital Monday afternoon.

He still wonders how this could’ve happened to Mary Grace.

“She’s the closest thing I have probably met to a saint," said Mabry.

“Much more joy and much more hope. And I see the conditions of Mary are improving," said Fr. Sylvester Kwiatkowski, pastor of St. Patrick’s church, while describing the mood in Tassone's hospital room Monday.

Kwiatkowski says though she remains in critical condition, Tassone has begun to respond through hand movements, a welcome sign for her family, now hoping for a recovery and an arrest.

Police say they’ll charge Kierkegaard with carjacking and attempted murder.