NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A neighborhood in Queens was searching for answers Monday evening after police sources say a woman was beaten beyond recognition and possibly sexually assaulted in broad daylight several hours earlier.

It happened around 8:30 a.m. at 72nd Road near Kissena Boulevard in Kew Gardens Hills.

One woman who lives in the area says she noticed police on scene early.

“They wouldn’t let anybody near that area,” she said. “They had orange cones surrounding that area so I just assumed the worst.”

The 52-year-old victim had just dropped a child off at a nearby school when sources say she was followed then dragged to an exterior staircase where she was brutally beaten.

Authorities say she was also possibly raped.

She was found unconscious and unrecognizable at the bottom of the stairwell.

First responders rushed her to the hospital, where she remains in serious condition.

Elise Rodriguez lives in the neighborhood and says it usually feels safe, especially in daylight.

“The person must know the time this community is quiet and everything stays still for the day,” she said. “He had to know because why wait until, like, 8:30?”

Police say the woman has been unable to provide a description of her attacker due to the extent of her injuries.

As investigators continue to scour the block for evidence, many residents remain uneasy at the vicious and seemingly random assault.