NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police in Queens were searching for help from the public Thursday in finding a man who slashed a teenage girl in the face as she was on her way to school.
As CBS2’s Brian Webb reported, Crime Stoppers posters clung to street signs, and police tape was among the Christmas decorations on a quiet street in Whitestone. Detectives were going door to door in their hunt for the suspect, who was seen on home security video.
The attack happened around 8:15 a.m. Wednesday near the intersection of 147th Street and 13th Avenue.
The alleged attacker is seen on the video running up behind a 16-year-old Chinese exchange student who was walking alone to school. He turned her around and then slashed her across her face and throat with a box cutter, police said.
“She’s slashed in her face twice, once from ear to her throat, to the middle of her throat and another part of her face as well,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. “It’s very disturbing.”
The suspect, who police said appears to have been wearing a hooded sweatshirt, a surgical mask and surgical gloves, ran away.
“We have a picture of the perp running away,” Boyce said. “It is non-probative. We cannot make an identification from it.”
The girl ran off as well, confused and bleeding from her wounds.
The victim has only been in the U.S. for eight months, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported. The attack happened a block from her home.
So far, police have ruled out a hate crime or a homeless hit man as they investigate the motive. Some neighbors have their own theories.
“He’s been stalking her,” said concerned resident Harriet Bronstein. “He must have been, you know?”
The victim told police through an interpreter that she had no idea who the assailant was.
“That’s awful,” said concerned resident Patti McCarthy. “Nothing like that is ever happened. You know, it’s a very safe neighborhood — very disturbing.”
“Shock. Shock, because this doesn’t happen in this area,” said resident Anastasia Theodoropoulus. “You know, we all look out for each other. That’s why I say if someone is sick like that, I think somebody, a neighbor or somebody, would have known.”
“It is an extremely friendly area to pedestrians, with so many schools around,” said Frederica Sagiani.
“We’re all outraged, and we hope he’s caught and brought to justice, and that this never happens again,” said Theodoropoulus.
Police on Thursday were patrolling the streets around Whitestone Academy, where the girl goes to school. A former classmate calls her quiet and shy.
“Went to school, did her homework, you know, went home — no problems,” said Whitestone Academy student Matthew Cirilo. “She didn’t speak a lot of English.
Based on the video, police think the suspect is young, tall and athletic.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS, visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or text tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are kept strictly confidential.