Nafiah Ikram had come home after work at a CVS when the attack happened on her driveway.
Trigger Warning: This story contains details of an acid attack that readers may find disturbing.
Police in New York are hunting for a man who threw a cup of acid on a woman's face. Nafiah Ikram, 21, was in the driveway of her Elmont home on March 17 when an unidentified man approached her from behind and splashed a dark-colored liquid on her face, the Nassau County Police Department said, according to CNN. The police have also offered a reward of $10,000 for information of the perpetrator leading to his arrest.
Ikram, who is a student at Hofstra University, wants answers for the unprovoked attack and told WCBS that she had just returned home from work when she was attacked. "I started to cry and, like, I was panicking. I was like, 'Dad, someone threw something in my face!' And he was like, 'Oh my God, it's acid.'"
Pakistani college student, 21, blinded and disfigured in ‘heinous’ acid attack outside her Long Island home— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) April 22, 2021
Nafiah Ikram and her mom were getting out of the car at their home when a man rushed up to her, threw a caustic liquid at her face and ran off.https://t.co/ps9lDYuH35
She was soon rushed to the hospital and treated for serious injuries to her eyes, throat, and burns on her arms. Her father Sheikh Ikram told the outlet that she was in the hospital for three weeks and she's still having difficulty eating properly. "She can't see anything good. Only one eye is working," he said while Ikram added that she can "just see colors, but that's it." Her assault was captured on a surveillance camera but the footage isn't enough to identify the suspect. Ikram added that she didn't know the person who did that to her and there had been no exchange between the two prior to the attack. Though the family isn't sure about the motive behind the attack, they said they don't believe it was a hate crime.
UPDATE: The reward for information regarding the assault of Nafiah Ikram with hazardous liquid has been increased to $20,000. Call 1-800-244-TIPS or visit https://t.co/wPkcjwGPGl.— Laura Curran (@NassauExecutive) April 22, 2021
All tips remain anonymous. pic.twitter.com/Lzp6ojuhjb
The Nassau County Police are currently on the lookout for a man who has been described as being 6'2" tall with a slim build. He was said to be wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and gloves, according to the police. They added that the suspect drove away in a red Nissan Altima but are urging people to reach out to Crime Stoppers if they have any information.
Ikram recalled the moments before and after the attack in an interview with the New York Post. She said, "I remember thinking in my head, 'God please, I’m 21 years old. This is not how I want to die.' It was horrible," Ikram said. Although she wasn't sure what was happening in the immediate aftermath of the attack, she could sense that "her face started burning."
Horrible— Natasha Fatah (@NatashaFatah) April 22, 2021
Nafiah Ikram, 21, Pakistani medical student left severely burned, nearly blind after acid attack outside New York home https://t.co/XbEIthAeL1
Her father identified the liquid as acid and quickly called the police. "When my dad said it was acid I was like ‘Oh my God my face,'” she continued. "In my head, I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, my face is going to melt.'" Alarmed by the commotion outside, Ikram's mom, a nurse by profession, rushed to help her daughter and washed her face, eyes, and mouth with water. "By the time she started washing my face off in the bathroom, I kept telling her not to throw water in my face because I couldn’t breathe," Ikram said. "The acid got in my throat.", she stated, adding that the experience was excruciating. "My nerves went on fire," Ikram said. "At that point, I wasn’t thinking. Then I couldn’t breathe … after that it was just pain, constant."
Ikram's case has received overwhelming support from people on social media led by Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, who shared a video on Instagram and said she's known the family for over a decade. "We want to find the people that did this terrible, heinous crime to her and we need your help," she said. "This is the nightmare of any parent to have this happen to your child." She also encouraged people to contribute to a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Ikram's medical expenses. So far, the campaign has received more than $419,000 but organizers believe the costs are going to be astronomical. "Nafiah has stayed incredibly strong throughout this horrific event," the campaign reads. "Nafiah's only wish is that the attacker is caught so that she can feel safe in her own home." Despite the support, Ikram feels her whole life has changed in a matter of five minutes. "We don't realize what we have until it's gone," she told WCBS.