NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A visiting nurse here to help fight the coronavirus pandemic had to put up a fight of her own against a suspected rapist.

Police say she was attacked at the Manhattan building where she’s staying.

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Police are asking for help in identifying a man seen casually walking Hamilton Heights apartment building with a cell phone Friday night. Police say he stole it from a 32-year-old nurse he followed inside, then allegedly punched her in the face and attempted to remove her pants.

The brave health care worker fought him off. Police say she had pain and bruising but refused medical attention at the scene.


“She was a nurse that was working, helping others on the pandemic and I have no doubt that somebody knows who this individual is,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.

(credit: NYPD)

“We’re obviously very pained any time anyone is attacked, particularly someone who is doing such noble work for all of us, and we will certainly bring individual involved, the perpetrator, to justice,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Sources say she is a volunteer nurse from upstate New York who arrived in the city about a month ago and is renting an Airbnb in the building.

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Neighbors CBS2’s Lisa Rozner spoke with say it’s a safe area and are disppointed.

“You know, karma is something. This woman coming all this way to volunteer and something like that happens. It’s crazy,” said Hamilton Heights resident Arnold Hatcher.

“I think people are trying to stick together and help each other. So this is very upsetting to hear,” said a neighbor named Evan.

It’s not clear which hospital she’s affiliated with or if she’s still working. Neighbors say there have been some issues with the front door not locking, and this has them even more concerned.

“It has just been a hard time because our super passed away, so we’re just having to go back and forth to communicate that, to make sure they stay on top of it,” said a neighbor named Briana.

The police commissioner is urging anyone who recognizes the suspect, wearing a light blue scarf around his head, to call Crimestoppers immediately. He’s optimistic clear pictures will help get him off the street, and bring justice for a nurse who already put so much on the line to save the lives of strangers living in the city.

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Anyone with any information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip via their website or on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.