EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Police are searching for a suspect wanted in connection to the assault of a 56-year-old man in the East Village on Sunday.
Authorities say the incident occurred on East 14th Street near First Avenue at the Immaculate Conception Church, where the victim, identified as John Mach, confronted the individual over urinating outside the church.
"I told him, 'You're not supposed to do this. You can't urinate here,'" said Mach to Eyewitness News.
The confrontation sparked a verbal dispute that escalated when the unidentified suspect pulled out a box cutter, slashed the resident in the neck and ran away.
As an employee at the church, the 56-year-old says he felt a need to protect it and found the man's behavior disrespectful to the parishioners heading in and out on Sunday.
"If he would have asked me, I got the key to the bathroom, I'll let you go," said Mach, before adding, "Why do something like that?"
The victim said the man became aggressive and threatened him and a security guard with violence, but the threats seemed empty when the man walked away. He thought it was over.
"He left, and then he came, as a coward and cut me," said Mach.
After the attack, Mach said he tied a piece of clothing around his neck and walked two blocks to Beth Israel Hospital, where he received 16 stitches.
Those who live in the neighborhood say stories like this remind them how much their community has changed.
"Things have changed dramatically and you have to watch your back and prepare for the worst," said Kenny Diaz, an East Village resident.
Other residents, like Alexis Mundy, say while the incident is horrible, they typically feel safe at the intersection.
"I feel like I can walk around by myself as a woman, which really, really surprises me," Mundy said.
No arrests have been made and the investigation is still ongoing.
According to police, the suspect is also known to hang around the nearby area, usually pushing a cart.
Anyone with information about the incident can contact the NYPD through the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).