GALVESTON, Texas -

Police in Galveston are searching for the man who snatched an elderly woman's purse and attacked her and anyone who tried to help.

On Sunday, a man grabbed the purse of a 77-year-old woman and knocked her to the ground, then pepper-sprayed her daughter when she tried to intervene, investigators said.

Galveston police said the attack happened in the 2200 block of Post Office in the city's historic downtown district.

One woman said this is simply disturbing.

"It's very frightening to think, even in the middle of the day, you're not safe and (about) what muggers will do to take your property," said Terry Frank.

Frank said the violent purse snatching is making her think twice about her own safety.

Cruz Cortez has operated a business in the area for 12 years. He said he keeps the phone number to Galveston police close by. He also said shop owners in the area keep an eye out for each other and their customers.

"We don't want he locals to be scared to shop," said Cortez.

Galveston police said if a woman is targeted for her purse, she should give it up or prepare to fight. That means carrying their own pepper spray, Taser gun or concealed handgun, officials said.

"If you fight back, be aware you need to defend yourself as much as you can. Do you value your property or risk of injury?" said Lt. Michael Gray with the Galveston Police Department.

Police said a witness tried to help the women, but the purse snatcher jumped into a waiting vehicle and took off.

Anyone with information is asked to call Galveston police at 409-765-3207.