NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are looking for a suspect in a violent attack on a woman in a subway station.
The incident happened amid mounting concerns about the safety of the transit system, especially as the city prepares to fully reopen.
On Tuesday, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas spoke to the victim about her harrowing ordeal.
Surveillance video captured a man punching a 23-year-old woman before stealing her backpack at the 14th Street and First Avenue subway station on Sunday just before 6 p.m.
“He came from behind, so all I felt was impact on the head. Once I was on the ground, I sort of understood what was happening,” the victim said.
The woman, who asked CBS2 not share her identity, said she was caught off guard while trying to exit.
Police are now looking for the suspect, who ran away. He was last seen wearing a red and black hoodie, black hat and blue and white shorts.
“Once I was on the ground, he hit me again and said, ‘Give me your bag,’ and then grabbed my bag and left pretty quick,” the victim said.
According to NYPD Transit Bureau crime stats, most violent crimes are down compared to 2020, but felony assaults have increased by 27 incidents and there have been four murders — one more than last year.
Subway ridership is still less than half of pre-pandemic levels. For the city to fully reopen, that has to increase.
However, a vast majority of those surveyed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said they don’t believe the trains and buses are safe.
“Our employees report that over the last six months 1,000 employees have been assaulted, attacked, threatened or spat upon,” MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye said.
In recent months, 600 more NYPD officers have been assigned to the transit system, but MTA leadership says more are needed, and that’s not all.
“We do need additional policing resources from the NYPD and additional mental health resources from the city to be able to deal with these challenges,” Foye said.
As for the victim in the latest attack, she said, “I’ve taken the subway since, probably not as frequently, probably not alone for a while.”
She continues to ride the subway, even if it’s more cautiously.
The 23-year-old victim said she is okay after suffering a head injury, but she is getting an MRI, just as a precaution.
Anyone with information about her attacker 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.