NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Missouri nurse who just moved to New York City for a new job says she was assaulted by a stranger near Penn Station. The incident sent her packing for home.

Taylor Dowling arrived from St. Louis two days ago ready to start her dream of living in the Big Apple.

The 25-year-old and her parents were walking back to their hotel from dinner at around 7 p.m. on Wednesday when Dowling says she was randomly punched in the head near 34th Street and Ninth Avenue. She told CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge on Thursday she is still in shock.

“I was standing on the sidewalk and somebody hit me out of nowhere. I don’t really know why,” she said.

“My husband and I were completely floored. We were like what the hell just happened?” mother Carole Dowling.

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The Dowlings said they visited the city back in June 2019 and had a great time, but they said this trip was dramatically different.

“We have seen everything. We’ve seen people shooting up drugs. The first time we were in New York it was never like that,” Carole Dowling said.

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In the first minute CBS2 pulled up to 34th Street Duddridge spotted people fighting in the street. She then tried to do an interview, but got interrupted.

“You need a shave, but you’re okay. Everybody all right,” one man said.

Businesses in the area are hoping a new NYPD program adding 80 uniformed officers to patrol the Midtown area will help deter crime.

“It’ll be great to have the troops. The problem is there’s a limit to what they can do given the attitude of the district attorneys,” said Dan Biederman, president of the 34th Street Partnership, a business improvement district.

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As for Taylor Dowling, who was supposed to be part of a summer nursing program performing COVID-19 vaccinations in the five boroughs, she decided she wouldn’t feel safe riding the subway each day.

“Imagine if I’m by myself, and I don’t know anybody. There’s just no point to stay and risk that,” she said.

So instead of starting her new job Thursday, she flew back home.

The Dowlings said they were so taking aback, they didn’t think of filing a police report.

Natalie Duddridge