Tracking down the mystery man who’s been punching women in the face in New York

By Charlie Sawyer

Updated Mar 28, 2024 at 02:50 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

“You guys, I was literally just walking and a man came up and punched me in the face,” TikToker Halley Kate told her followers in a video that went viral on Tuesday 25 March 2024. In it, Halley further revealed that she had been attacked by a man while walking through the streets of New York City. Alone, it’s a wild and terrifying story. But the thing is, Halley isn’t the only one who’s recently made such claims. Over the past few days, at least four other women have gone through similar ordeals and posted about it on TikTok. So, it begs the question: is this a lone attacker, taking vengeance on some of the city’s most famous influencers? Or are all of these events completely unrelated? Let’s investigate.

@halleykate

♬ original sound - halley

After the initial punching video, which is now sitting at a whopping 39.4 million views, the TikToker went on to explain in another post that she blacked out for a moment after being hit and when she awoke, the attacker was screaming in her face. Wanting to get as far away from the situation as possible, Halley ran away and therefore did not properly look at the perpetrator or take down many details about his appearance.

@halleykate

♬ original sound - halley

Updating her followers on the situation, Halley later went on to post another video clarifying that she was okay and had made a police report regarding the situation.

@halleykate

♬ original sound - halley

Now, case closed, right? No, no. Mere hours after I checked in to this entire saga, I began getting served other videos on my FYP of more women who had also been punched in the face by a man in New York.

@mikaylatoninato

@halley i quite literally feel your pain this was so insane

♬ original sound - mikayla
@olivia.brand

I <3 nyc

♬ original sound - Olivia Brand
https://www.tiktok.com/@malous228/video/7350685515013754154

In almost every other scenario, the story was practically identical. These women would be simply walking down the street on their phones or coming out of a store and a man would approach them and deliver one single punch to their heads. NYC is obviously known for its crime rates, but the timings of these incidents and the similarities in attacks is giving spooky.

And it wasn’t just me that was picking up on this. X, formerly Twitter, began popping off with conspiracy theories and wild threads about this apparent crime epidemic:

Some people even began referring to the alleged perpetrator as “one punch man.”

But wait, there’s more. One thing I will say about the girlies on TikTok is that they truly never rest. Shortly after the attacks began going viral, creator @janeybonbon posted a video where she mapped out the potential streets and areas where these incidents could have taken place. Looking at all of the women’s videos and identifying landmarks and certain street signs in the background, Janey was able to establish that the majority of attacks took place in and around Washington Square Park.

@janeybonbon

Sending love and fast recovery to anyone who has been recently hurt. Please be safe🤍 #newyork #womensafety #punchingnyc

♬ original sound - janey💘

Interestingly, yesterday, Tuesday 26 March, Halley—the influencer whose video sparked this viral conversation—posted a clip where she clarified that she didn’t particularly believe that it was the same man committing these crimes. Moreover, the creator went on to emphasise that in the six years that she’s been living in New York, this was the very first time anything of this magnitude had happened to her and that she still loves the city.

@halleykate

♬ original sound - halley

If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think there’s a serial puncher out there targeting female influencers. I think TikTok thrives on moral panics and the algorithm loves to give us all a big scare every now and then. Also, crime is rampant in these cities and it’s important that people are aware of their surroundings at all times. It might not be a wild conspiracy but it definitely is a wake-up call.

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