'She went berzerk on me': Subway mask request turns violent, woman attacked

BROOKLYN, New York (WABC) -- A woman speaks exclusively with Eyewitness News about a harrowing attack on a subway train last week.

"I couldn't see. My face was on fire. I thought it was acid to be honest," said the victim named Anna.

This 28-year-old victim still has nightmares from the assault she suffered on the R Train last Tuesday night.

RELATED | Mask request in subway station leads to beating, attempted robbery

Anna, a health care worker, was heading home to Brooklyn when she was attacked. Police are now looking for a pair of suspects.

According to the victim, it all began when the woman refused to wear her mask, which is now mandatory on public transportation.

"I had asked her politely to put it on. She went berzerk on me," Anna said. "She started threatening me, calling me names, she spit in my hair."

Anna got out at the next stop hoping to escape, but says the couple followed her.

As she tried to call 911, police believe the man assaulted her and broke her phone while the woman without the mask, sprayed something in Anna's face.

"I've been riding the subway more than a decade and never afraid until this," Anna said. "It's not safe. There's nobody you can get help from."

This victim is not alone in her fears.

Ridership is down 75% on the subways.

RELATED | MTA in peril as New York City subway crime rate spikes, ridership plummets
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Marcus Solis reports a spike in crime rates on the New York City subway system combined with the coronavirus pandemic decimating ridership has the MTA worried on top of the financial crisis the agency is already facing.


Commuters are apparently fearful of both COVID and crime. A double whammy for a transit system already hemorrhaging revenues.

The NYPD's Chief of Transit tweeted tonight:


"As ridership went down during COVID the number of career criminals didn't ... our cops are using every tool they're given, and doing it remarkably well," Edward Delatorre said.

As police continue searching for this couple, commuters are left searching for more protection, and the MTA for more federal funds.

"There's no cops anymore, don't defund the police, we need their support," Anna said.

Meanwhile, Anna has given up on the transit system and says she now drives to work every day.


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