"Why are so many girls being assaulted in the face in NYC?" This inquiry is echoing across various social media platforms as numerous videos featuring different women recounting stories of alleged attacks have rapidly gained traction. "I've seen at least four of these videos in the last day alone, what's happening?" commented one individual on a video.

The narratives share commonalities. In self-recorded videos, young women recount being punched in the face during daylight hours by unidentified men while walking down the street. Many mention being engrossed in their phones at the time of the assault.

New York police announced on March 27 that they have made an arrest in one of the incidents and are probing another, according to NBC News.

While authorities haven't confirmed whether the incidents described in the TikTok videos are directly under investigation, they acknowledge that the cases bear resemblances to those circulating on social media.

Although overall crime rates in New York have declined, with decreases reported in shootings, homicides, and other offenses like grand larceny compared to the same period last year, the assaults coincide with a statistical uptick in misdemeanor assault. Crime statistics from the past week indicate a 10.3% increase in misdemeanor assaults compared to the previous year, and a 15.7% increase over the past two years.

Caitlin Keith recounted an incident to TODAY.com that occurred in December 2023, sharing parallels with recent viral accounts, and its lasting impact on her.

The 25-year-old detailed making eye contact with a "young white male" while walking in the SoHo area of Manhattan at 9 a.m. The man, approximately 5-foot-10 and in his 20s, began trailing her along Broadway.

"At one point, I sensed him start running, so I veered to my right, but he approached from the left, spat all over my face and back, and punched me on the left side of my face," she recounted.

The incident has significantly altered her sense of security. "Since then, my boyfriend has noticed that I get startled easily if someone approaches from behind or if I detect movement in my peripheral vision," she shared. "I become incredibly fearful if I notice anyone behind me."

Ruby Zinner, 24, disclosed being assaulted in December by a tall man wearing an orange construction vest just 400 feet from her residence. While the experience was distressing, it hasn't compelled her to leave New York. "Despite everything, I'd rather stay here than anywhere else, especially when it comes to safety. The sheer volume of people here has always made me feel safer," she asserted.

Savannah Guthrie revealed on TODAY on March 28 that the attacks struck close to home for her. "This happened to a dear friend of mine, who was formerly the head of New York City transit and managed the subways. She was punched in the face in broad daylight, about 15 months ago," she disclosed.

Below are accounts from some of these women who spoke to TODAY.com, shedding light on their experiences.

What do the women say about the attacks in the viral videos?

Influencer Halley Mcgookin, known as Halley Kate on social media, became a viral sensation following her video posted on March 25 recounting a recent attack.

In the emotional video, which has amassed over 35 million views, a tearful Mcgookin reveals that she had just been assaulted on the streets of New York. She gestures to a sizable bump on the upper right side of her head, indicating the apparent aftermath of the incident.

In a subsequent video, Mcgookin provides further details, explaining that she was walking along the sidewalk, engrossed in her phone while composing an email, when a man assaulted her.

"There was plenty of space on the sidewalk, and literally nobody was around, but this man—I'm not sure if he punched me or elbowed me. I blacked out, so I don't really recall," she recounts, mentioning that the man was walking his dog at the time of the encounter.


♬ original sound - halley

Mcgookin recounted that as she attempted to rise after being knocked down, the assailant was "screaming" at her before she fled the scene.

Skiboky Stora, aged 40, from Brooklyn, was apprehended on March 27 on an assault charge related to the incident, as reported by the police.

Public records indicate that Stora has been involved in seeking public office in New York since 2021. Last year, he campaigned for the District 9 seat on the New York City Council.

In a video tagged to Mcgookin, TikTok user Mikayla Toninato shared her own ordeal on March 25, stating that she was also assaulted while leaving class in Manhattan at Parsons School of Design.

"As I turned the corner, looking down at my phone and texting, out of nowhere, this man just came up and hit me in the face," she recounted in the video.

Toninato informed NBC News correspondent Stephanie Gosk on TODAY on March 28 that she suffered a concussion from the blow to her cheekbone.

"It’s been really, really hard," Toninato expressed. "I feel like it hits me in waves. A lot of crying, because it was really scary."

She mentioned that the attack has had an impact on her education.

"I’m really scared to go back to school," she admitted. "I’ve just been delaying as long as possible, but I’ll have to go back eventually."

Also on March 25, Selena Pikanab posted on TikTok detailing an incident where she was assaulted in SoHo. She was using her phone for navigation when approached. After hearing "excuse me," she looked up and saw a man holding his fist up "ready to swing," so she backed away, but he punched her in the shoulder. Pikanab screamed and retrieved a taser attached to her backpack, causing the man to flee.

@pikapikanab Getting punched in NYC was not on my agenda today. This happened to me at around 1 pm and I had work immediately after. #fyp #fypage ♬ original sound - Selena Pikanab

In a video posted on March 26, TikTok user @kendalllllllll888 is seen icing a bump on her head as she voices, “I have become a victim of the men in New York City … trying to punch innocent girls in the street.” She recounts being assaulted while walking through Times Square with her coworkers and emphasizes that she wasn't using her phone at the time.

The women share various descriptions of their assailants, though some are making connections by watching each other's videos.

Following the series of videos, @malous228 shared her own experience in Times Square on March 23, when a "random man … punched her in the head." She also posted a video of the alleged perpetrator, who was wearing a red coat.

"It was a traumatic experience and something that is going to stick with me for the rest of my life," she reflects.

In another video shared on March 26, user @meredithfryy discusses a close call, stating that she had nearly been punched in the face. She asserts that the man in @malous228's video was "clearly the same man" who had attempted to attack her, wearing the "same jacket."

@malous228 @halley @mikayla I’m in the same boat yall. I got punched in the head in NYC. #storytime #nyc #punchinhead #timessquare ♬ original sound - M

While numerous videos went viral on March 25 and 26, there is evidence of earlier attacks.

On March 17, TikTok user @olivia.brand shared an account stating, "I literally just got punched by some man on the sidewalk. He goes, 'Sorry,' then punches me in the head."

Additionally, TikToker Jill Burke posted a video on February 8 displaying a black eye. She recounts an incident where a man "slammed" a bag of heavy items onto her face, resulting in a concussion and a possible chipped bone.