MINEOLA, N.Y. (WPIX) – A Long Island woman is speaking out after she was left scarred on most of her face, arms, and hands, and was left legally blind in one eye after an acid attack by an unknown assailant. Nafiah Ikram, 21, said that she has to speak up in order to seek justice, and to help herself.
“I’ve always been a believer in talking about things,” Ikram, a junior at Hofstra University, said. “It helps the mental state.”
Her state is remarkably strong in the wake of what happened to her at around 8 p.m. on March 17.
She’d just pulled up to her family’s home, after dropping her mother off after work. As surveillance video of the scene shows, a man wearing a hoodie snuck up to her carrying a cup of what police called a “hazardous substance.”
“He ran up behind me and threw it in my face,” Ikram said. “I can’t understand what level of hatred, or jealousy, or whatever provoked this person to do this to me.”
Investigators with the Nassau County Police Department said the attacker is a thin man, standing about 6 feet 2 inches tall. They said he fled in a 2013 red Nissan Altima with yellow New York state license plates.
The county also doubled the reward Thursday for information leading to an arrest from $10,000 to $20,000.
Also on Thursday afternoon, donations to a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Ikram’s treatment had totaled more than $370,000. Padma Lakshmi, the host of the television series Top Chef, is a personal friend of Ikram’s family and has urged people to donate.
Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder referenced the campaign at a news conference.
“Donating to the GoFundMe page is great, but I need to hear some information,” he said, asking for tips.
He also addressed a question that has surfaced repeatedly since the attack happened last month: Was this a hate crime?
“We have no evidence at this time to say that it was a hate crime,” the commissioner said. “We have no evidence at this time to say that it was not a hate crime.”
Ikram is of South Asian descent, and she said that her Muslim faith has sustained her through the trauma of the attack. Still, she herself doesn’t believe it was a hate crime.
“This is about just humanity, you know?” she said. “That’s what’s important.”
She said, really, there’s just one question.
“I just want to know why.”