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Woman 'Upset, Nervous' After Being Jabbed With Needle On R Train

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A woman was struck with a needle late Wednesday in a terrifying attack on the subway, and the victim was not even sure that the attack had happened.

CBS2's Dave Carlin talked to the woman, who did not want to show her face or share her name.

The 37-year-old woman was catching her usual R Train ride home from her job as a retail store manager early Wednesday evening when she was jabbed with a needle or similar object.

"I feel violated," she said.

It was not long after she made it through the bank of turnstiles at the 49th Street and Seventh Avenue station near Times Square that she felt a sudden pain as a man brushed up against her.

"He just looked like a guy getting off of work," the woman said. "And I went back to looking at my phone, and I felt, like, this really sharp, like, pain on my right shoulder blade."

Whatever the sharp object was, she said it was in the clenched fist of the man who hopped on an R Train and remained on the loose late Thursday.

Police have not released surveillance video of him or a sketch.

The woman said the man is white with short blond hair, wearing a blue and white plaid sweatshirt and blue jeans. He had a black backpack.

The woman went home and then to a hospital.

"I went to the emergency room. The doctors confirmed that I was punctured with something," the woman said, "so they started me on HIV antivirals with hepatitis B."

When asked about her state of mind a day after the attack, the woman said: "I'm upset. I'm nervous.

"I'm a pretty tough cookie," she continued. "I'm just going to go to work and just carry on."

The incident was one of two attacks within 24 hours.

On Thursday morning, CBSNewYork Web Producer Marta Zielinska said she witnessed an assault in Penn Station. She said she saw an apparently homeless man grab a woman waiting for the Downtown No. 1 train and throw her to the platform.

"As I'm walking up the stairs, I see a woman leaning against the pole and a man walking towards both me and her and then he says something to himself and kind of looks over at her and then grabs her by the chest and throws her to the ground," she said.

She told 1010 WINS' Roger Stern the man then calmly walked away, "as if nothing ever happened." Zielinska and other witnesses flagged down cops. The victim was shaken, but apparently didn't suffer any serious injuries.

The latest attacks happened after a dangerous month on the city's transit system. The NYPD reports overall crime is down 10 percent, but the number of transit assaults jumped to more than 36 percent in January compared to last year.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said in half of the cases, the victim was attacked after falling asleep on the train. He is now ordering officers to wake up slumbering straphangers because he said they can be targets.

"I know a whole lot of people are tired, they work very hard, but our officers are going to be instructed to start waking people up," Bratton said. "You might miss your stop if you're sleeping, you might lose your wallet or your iPhone, you might be the subject of a sexual assault. So why put yourself at that risk?"

Bratton also said more officers are on patrol underground, but some straphangers wondered where those officers were.

"I'm not satisfied, because I'm not going to see that, because we've heard that before," said Stephanie McGraw of Harlem.

CBS2 went to subways platforms lower Manhattan with NYPD chief of transit Joseph Fox. He insisted police presence has been boosted.

"Frankly, I'm not sure how someone could take the train every day and not see a police officer," Fox said.

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