Two Bridgeport residents accused of brutally attacking two library volunteers downtown and stealing the female volunteer's purse more than a month ago, were taken into custody Tuesday.

"The randomness and the viciousness of the attack did scare a lot of people," said Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara. "It concerned a lot of people. We knew that and our detectives were really working this case and put a lot of significant effort into solving this case."

MacNamara described the incident as a "street mugging."

The attackers struck on a late afternoon in early September, police said, brazenly assaulting their victims in a usually busy area.

The two victims, according to MacNamara, had volunteered at an art exhibit at the Fairfield Public Library. After the exhibit closed, they walked to the center of town. After roughly 20 minutes, they returned to their cars, parked in the lot of Chase Bank, across the street from the library. The female volunteer was in her car and her male friend was leaning against it as they talked, when two people approached and asked for money. The woman answered that she didn't have any, but one of the suspects -- now identified as Cheryl Rice-Lewis, 28 -- lunged for her purse. A struggle ensued for the red Coach bag, ending when the robbery victim was punched in the face.

The woman, who suffered serious facial injuries, was not sure if she was assaulted by Rice-Lewis or her companion, identified as 20-year-old Maurice Orr. Almost simultaneously, the male library volunteer was elbowed in the face by Orr, according to MacNamara. The blow caused him to fall to the ground. The suspects then ran south on Old Post Road toward Oldfield Road, and apparently fled the area in a car, although no witnesses saw their escape.

Detectives, however, had enough evidence to track down the suspects, according to MacNamara.

The chief said no single break in the case led to the arrests, but rather, "interviews and trying to chase down leads."

"We worked closely with members of the Bridgeport Police Department to determine if there were any similar crimes in their town," MacNamara said. He added that Orr actually committed a "somewhat similar" crime in the Park City.

"We're pleased that we're able to bring some closure to it for the victims' sake," he said.

While there were two immediate victims of the attack, the chief said, "this type of crime has many victims."

"The people who visit that area are also victims," he added.

Rice-Lewis and Orr were each charged with second-degree robbery, second-degree larceny, two counts of third-degree assault, conspiracy to commit second-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit second-degree robbery, and conspiracy to commit third-degree assault.

Bond was set for each at $25,000. Rice-Lewis was scheduled to appear Tuesday in Bridgeport Superior Court, while Orr is scheduled to face charges Oct. 27 in court.