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Judith Thomas, 75, Speaks Out After Random Sucker Punch Attack: 'It Seems Like We're Going Back To The Bad Old Days" 

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Another random assault has been caught on camera.

Police say a 75-year-old woman was punched in the face on a Harlem sidewalk as she was walking to Easter Sunday dinner.

"No exchange of words. Just one hell of a punch to the face. It got me all the way down from the eye to the jaw," victim Judith Thomas told CBS2's Natalie Duddridge.

Thomas says despite the pain from her bruised, swollen face, she is speaking out to help catch the suspect who attacked her from out of nowhere.

Surveillance video shows a suspect in a jean jacket ducking under scaffolding and heading right for Thomas, who he then punches in the face, knocking her down.

"It's painful. One of my teeth went through my upper lip," Thomas said. "I was just screaming. I was screaming, and I sat on the ground, put my head in my hands. And I was going 'Oh my God, oh my God, what just happened?'"

It happened Sunday around 3 p.m. at the corner of West 119th Street and Lenox Avenue as Thomas was walking to her sister's apartment. The suspect took off, but Thomas says good Samaritans came to her aid.

"They were wonderful. They got me water. They comforted me, called the police, EMS," she said.

Thomas says years ago she worked at Channel 9 news and feels like the city is slipping back.

"In the '70s and the '80s, when we had a spike in crime, I was a crime reporter back in those days," she said. "It seems like we're going back to the bad old days."

The suspect took off, but was later seen clearly on surveillance video standing near a group of outdoor diners.

People who live in the area say the city needs to improve mental health programs.

75 year old  woman punched
Police are searching for a man seen on video punching a 75-year-old woman in the face Sunday in South Harlem. (Credit: NYPD)

"It's important that the government implement action into helping the people that actually need to be helped," said Harlem resident Waldo Bourgos.

"It's unfortunate this is happening in our city right now. I think we women, especially myself being an older woman, have to be more careful... we're easily targeted. Not as strong. Can't run as fast," said Harlem resident Berta Silva.

"A lot of people with mental health issues should have mental facilities available," said Joao de Carvalho.

He says a similar incident recently happened to his wife.

"She was taking the subway at 116 and Lexington and she was almost assaulted by someone coming out of the station. The person was screaming at her and almost charging at her, so she had to run away," he said.

Despite what happened, Thomas doesn't want New Yorkers to walk around nervously.

"These people that try to do this thing. They're not going to intimidate me, and I don't think they should intimidate anybody in the city. You can't let our streets be taken over by these criminals, cowards, these despicable people," she said.

In fact, right after she spoke to CBS2 News, Thomas went to go get her COVID vaccine to start getting back to her life as a strong New Yorker.

Police are confident someone will recognize the suspect in the surveillance video, and are encouraging people to call and report any tips.

Anyone with information about him 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.

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