NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are searching for a suspect accused of hitting an elderly man over the head with a barbecue tool in an apparently random attack.

The victim was on his way home in Hell’s Kitchen when the suspect approached from behind and knocked him on the head, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported Friday.

Surveillance video shows a man walking on West 49th Street near Ninth Avenue shortly before he assaulted the 78-year-old, according to police.

It happened around 2 a.m. on Oct. 26.

The NYPD said the victim was near his apartment when the suspect came from out of nowhere with a wooden grill brush – intended for barbecuing – and hit him on the head, knocking the victim to the ground.

“We got mental health issues. Corona[virus] wiped out everything… They’re not getting treatment,” one person told Duddridge.

“I do feel like it’s a little bit more dangerous. I carry around pepper spray now and I didn’t used to do that,” said another.

Police said the suspect came from out of nowhere and hit the 78-year-old man over the head with a grill brush on West 49th St. (credit: CBS2)

The victim suffered pain and bruising with cuts to his face. EMS responded to the scene and took him to the hospital in stable condition.

The suspect took off running eastbound on 49th St.

Neighbors said they’ve noticed a spike in incidents.

“I started to go out with my roommate. Every time we go out late or we get food late, we always go out in pairs. We usually stay on either Ninth or Tenth,” said Robert Henry.

Police said the suspect and victim did not appear to know each other and no words were exchanged before the alleged assault.

Anyone with 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.

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