Portland police say a woman was punched several times in the face and head by a man as she walked along Gray Street in the city’s West End neighborhood Wednesday night.

The attack was the third one of its type to have taken place in the same neighborhood over the past six months, though one of the incidents did not result in physical violence, back in October.

Police are warning the public to be extra careful following the latest assault, which was reported around 9:40 p.m.

The woman told police she was walking and talking on the phone when she felt someone tap her on the shoulder. When she turned around, a man punched her in the face, causing her to fall to the ground, police said in a news release. He hit the woman several more times in the face and head before leaving the scene in an unknown direction, according to police.

“There is no indication at this time that the attacker and the victim knew each other,” David Singer, a spokesman for the police department, said in an email Thursday. “The suspect did not communicate anything during the assault and did not make any attempt to take anything from the victim.”

The assailant was described as a white man with a slim build who was between 5 feet 5 inches and 6 feet tall. He was wearing dark clothing and possibly a ski mask and hood.


“Due to the nature of the attack, police are advising anyone who may be walking alone to take extra care to protect themselves,” Singer said earlier in a news release. “That includes being alert to your surroundings and staying in well-lit areas.”

Neighbors heard the victim screaming Wednesday night and arrived to help her, but did not see anything leading up to or during the attack, according to Singer.

Singer said the victim was white. Reports of assaults and harassment targeting Asian Americans have surged nationally during the COVID-19 pandemic, fueled by rhetoric blaming the coronavirus on China or Asian Americans.

In March, Portland police identified a suspect in the harassment of an Asian woman and her children while they were waiting in line to have their car’s oil changed at a business on Forest Avenue. Police said the attack was racially motivated and the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

Though Portland police said it was too early in the investigation to make a connection to the incidents last fall, a similar assault involving a woman walking in the West End and a second frightening incident that same evening, also involving a woman, were reported to authorities in October.

The assault in October was reported when police were called to the area of 32 Thomas St. by a 911 caller who reported hearing someone screaming and calling for help. When officers arrived, a 34-year-old Portland woman with facial injuries told them she had been assaulted by a man who had followed her in his car.


“The woman told us that she had been walking on Thomas Street near Carroll Street when she noticed a vehicle following her,” Lt. Robert Martin said in a news release issued after that attack. “The operator opened a passenger side window and asked for directions and then offered her a ride. When she refused, he got out of his car, walked up to her and punched her in the face several times, knocking her to the ground.”

Martin said witnesses told police it looked like the man was trying to drag the woman to his car. The man got back into his car and drove away on Carroll Street toward Vaughn Street.

About an hour later, police received a 911 call from a 37-year-old woman who reported a car followed her as she walked on Brackett Street toward Spring Street, also in the West End. She told officers the male driver called to her from an open window to get her attention. She ignored him and took out her cellphone to make a call when he made a U-turn and drove toward Maine Medical Center, Martin said.

In the second incident, the suspect was described as a Black man, about 30 to 40 years old, and possibly bald. He was driving a gray or silver Toyota Camry with a Texas paper registration plate, Martin said.

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