A woman was brutally attacked in the West End neighborhood of Portland, Maine, this week, leaving concern in the community.
The woman was walking by herself on Gray Street and talking to her father on the phone around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night when a man tapped her on the shoulder and punched her in the face, according to police.
“She fell to the ground, curled up to try to protect herself and the attacker continued to punch her in the head,” said David Singer, the media and community relations liaison for the Portland Police Department.
The woman was taken to the hospital for bruises and lacerations and reported the suspect as a man between five-and-a-half to six feet tall, with a slim build and possibly wearing a ski mask or hood.
Portland police have since added more patrols in the area, which is in the same neighborhood of the city where another woman reported being attacked at night last fall. A woman also reported being followed by a suspicious car in December.
Singer said that investigators do not have any indication suggesting those incidents are related to what happened on Gray Street, because they believe “suspect descriptions and the circumstances” are different.
People living on Gray Street told NECN on Friday that the incident is a concern for what they say is a generally safe area.
“It’s really traumatizing,” said Michael Hughes, who heard the victim scream and brought her an ice pack following the attack.
He said that, as he was retrieving the ice from his freezer, he thought, “This can’t be happening.”
Brandy Botting, who lives a few apartment buildings down from the attack scene, said she did not hear it happen but was “a little surprised” it occurred so close to where she lives.
Botting added that she generally does not walk at night but, if she were, she would “have a backup plan, walk in the area with my boyfriend or maybe even skip it and take a cab.”
Police are asking people to take extra care when walking in the area, although they noted that the woman who was attacked was taking about every precaution possible given the circumstances.
“She was doing everything that you should, it was just the circumstances are extremely unfortunate,” said Singer, adding that people should “stay vigilant, stay in well-lit areas and let people know” they’re going to be when walking at night.