A woman was surrounded, beaten and nearly robbed by a group of preteen children as young as 11 during an attack on a Manhattan sidewalk, the victim told told NBC New York.
The woman, who did not want to be identified, said she was walking home from work when four children, two boys and two girls, attacked her and tried to steal her cellphone. Now she wants to warn others to be on the lookout.
"It was basically a group of kids, that's why I didn't suspect anything when they were coming up," she said.
The incident occurred just before 8 p.m. Thursday on West 26th Street near Eighth Avenue, police said. The victim said she was walking with her headphones in when she noticed a group of 11- and 12-year-olds ride up alongside her on scooters. Before she knew it, one of the boys attacked her.
"He basically grabbed my hair, I had a long ponytail. It happened so fast and you don't exect it, like it's a kid," she said. "But then he had a super tight grip on my head and he started rolling me around. I had the phone in my hand, so they were trying to grab my phone."
The victim said it wasn't until a nearby security guard intervened when the children backed off — and then tried to blame her.
"The boy stopped and then started yelling at the security guard that I had assaulted him," the woman said. She is still recovering from the injuries to her neck and leg.
The violent crime is a shock and a concern to the president of the nearby Chelsea Television Studios, who said thy recently installed more lighting around the building after neighbors complained about an uptick in suspicious activity. The president of the studio said that many young women — including his daughter — work in the building, and that they wanted to "take extra measures to protect them."
The victim said that's why she's sharing her story: to warn others.
"I don't want it to happen to someone else obviously," she said. "And if there is something that needs to happen to help these kids, because it's also a sign to me that something is not going right in their lives if they do that at this age."
Police are still looking for the four suspects, all believed to be 11 or 12 years old.