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Women attacked at random in New York

Women attacked at random in New York

A series of young women have revealed they were sucker-punched at random on the street in Manhattan in a worrying series of attacks – with at least one perpetrator still at large.

Mikayla Toninato told The New York Post she was frozen in shock when she was punched in the face by a man over six feet tall on the corner of 14th Street and Fifth Ave on Monday at 2pm, moments after she left her class at Parsons School of Design.

“I didn’t see him coming at all. I screamed out of shock. He knocked my head back so hard I just kind of like gasped and screamed,” the 27-year-old, who was sending a text to her friend at the time of the attack, said.

“I was frozen with fear. I was pretty paralysed and I just stood there trying to figure out what happened.”

Ms Toninato is one of a string of women who have been randomly punched in the face by strangers while walking in New York and on their cell phones.

On Wednesday, 40-year-old Brooklyn man, Skiboky Stora, was arrested and charged with assault for allegedly punching influencer Halley Kate Mcgookin in the face while she was walking along West 16th Street and Seventh Ave on Monday.

But at least one other perpetrator – and possibly more – are still on the loose.

Days earlier on Saturday, March 23, a 25-year-old woman reported she was slapped in the forehead by an individual at West 42nd Street and Seventh Ave, an NYPD spokesperson told The Post. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.

“I was literally just walking and a man came up and punched me in the face,” Ms Mcgookin, who has 1.1 million followers on TikTok, said in a video viewed more than 40 million times, filmed after the attack at around 10.20am. She fell to the ground and blacked out.

The 23-year-old, who, like Ms Toninato, explained she was looking at her phone during the time of the accident, showed a bump on her forehead in the now-viral video that she said “hurt so bad”.

She was later treated at a medical facility for injuries. Her video led more than a dozen women to come forward with reports on TikTok and Instagram.

It’s unclear how many have reported the incidents to the police.

Comedian Sarah Suzuki Harvard said she was “punched in the back of my skull from a random man on the street”, as she left Delancey Street-Essex Street subway stop on the Lower East Side. She did not report the incident to police.

Ms Toninato told The Post she walked to Union Square a block away to alert a police officer who told her the random acts of violence may be stemming from a nearby addiction centre at 19 Union Square West and that there’s been an uptick in random acts of violence in the neighbourhood.

“I said, ‘I just got punched in the face like a block away’. I was crying. I instantly had a black eye,” she said.

“He basically said the two options are: we drive around and try to look for this guy and he could arrest him, but I felt like that was going to be impossible and I was so shook up.

“Then he said he could file a report but he’d have to call an ambulance to check me out, but I said I can’t afford to pay for an ambulance. I said I don’t want to do that.

“(The cop) told me these random acts of violence happen every single day. He was kind of unfazed by it.”

The next day she went to the emergency room where she was told she had a concussion from the blow. She also suffered a black eye.

Ms Toninato posted a TikTok hours after her attack on Monday afternoon she said to help raise awareness after she saw Ms Mcgookin’s post. It got 11 million views, and her follower count on the app where she typically posts about fashion went from 15,000 to 23,000.

Former Real Housewives of New York star Bethenny Frankel reportedly commented: “This is insane (because) this happened to me a few months ago but I was embarrassed to say.” A rep for Frankel declined to comment.

A law enforcement source told The Post that TikTok is to blame.

“They want to complain to TikTok, but not file police reports,” they said.

Ms Toninato told The Post late on Wednesday that she was on her way to file a police report.

“For this man this was probably a two-second occurrence that he doesn’t even remember, and for me this just derailed my entire life,” she told The Post.

“I’m falling behind in my classes. I can’t do my work because I can’t look at my laptop. I can’t get paid. I can’t do my job and I have anxiety to leave my house.”

The spate of random attacks is the latest wave of violent crime to hit New York.

Ms Mcgookin posted a follow-up clip on Tuesday in which she said she believed her attack was an isolated incident and that TikTok’s algorithm had helped the other women’s accounts go viral too.

“I am not here to argue that New York City can’t be really scary at times, but I have lived here for six years, and I have not had anything even remotely similar happen,” she said.

This article originally appeared on The New York Post and was reproduced with permission

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