NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are searching for the suspect behind a vicious, unprovoked attack caught on video in Midtown.
They are looking for a suspect who struck a man in the head with a traffic divider.READ MORE: Bald Eagle Spotted At Central Park Reservoir
As CBS2’s Christina Fan reported Wednesday, neighbors in Hell’s Kitchen say random assaults have become a part of life.
Surveillance video shows the 47-year-old victim, Onder Unaler, a food delivery worker, getting on his bike when a man approaches from behind. In the suspect’s hand is a hard plastic traffic device, which he uses as a weapon, knocking the victim to the ground unprovoked.
“The next thing I realized, I was on the floor. I felt like my head, my skull, was crushed,” Unaler said.
Unaler needed six stitches, but what he said hurt the most was finding out that the suspect took off laughing.
“He’s so young. He has a life. He has a future in front of him. So whatever his reason to do that … it’s so wrong,” Unaler said.
Neighbors who watched the video said, unfortunately, it’s just another day in Hell’s Kitchen.
“You get a lot of assaults, often you get a lot of robberies. The lady got hit by some guy in the face for her phone. You got this man who got assaulted for no reason. In New York City, it’s a regular basis,” said Fernando Negron, who works nearby.
The assault happened last Thursday at around 9 p.m. in front of 428 West 47th St. The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital.
“I’m on the street side on 47th, and last night I heard a fight going on, cursing, so I don’t want to be out after dark,” said Hell’s Kitchen resident Katherine Hedden.READ MORE: Landmarks Preservation Commission OKs Designs For Delacorte Theater Makeover
“We all love this city so much, right? And it’s sad when we aren’t protecting each other and caring for each other,” resident Jessica Norris added.
Police are asking for help identifying the suspect, who was last seen running on Ninth Avenue towards 42nd Street. But families said even if officers catch him, the arrest will do little to address the root problem of homelessness and mental illness.
“It’s a mess on 10th Avenue and these blocks 44th, 45th, 46th, you just got to be careful,” said Christopher Bannon.
Neighbors said they don’t see any way out of this problem other than increasing police presence. Rather than waiting on city leaders to act, they’ve been forced to adapt.
“Me, myself, I almost got assaulted twice in the subway. I ride the bike. I ride the bike now to get to work. It’s not safe anymore,” Negron said.
Just days after the attack, Unaler was back on his bike.
“Since that daym I’m on the street. Sometimes that feeling says look around. I never, ever felt like that before,” Unaler said.
He started food delivery work after losing his job as a cook during the pandemic.
Even though he still feels uneasy, he said he has to set his fear aside in order to support his family.
Anyone with information about the attack 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.MORE NEWS: Suffolk County Police Officer Reunites With Mother, Baby He Helped Deliver On Christmas Eve
Christina Fan contributed to this report.