'This is not how I want to die': Hofstra student recounts disturbing attack that left her with limited vision

Nafiah Fatima, 21, says she got home from work at CVS on March 17 and was walking up her driveway on Arlington Avenue when someone threw an unknown substance at her face and ran.

News 12 Staff

Apr 21, 2021, 11:00 PM

Updated 1,095 days ago

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A Hofstra student who was attacked outside her Elmont home described the disturbing details of what happened to her last month.
Nafiah Fatima, 21, says she got home from work at CVS on March 17 and was walking up her driveway on Arlington Avenue when someone threw an unknown substance at her face and ran.
"God, I'm only 21 years old," says Fatima. "This is not how I want to die."
Fatima says she had noticed someone standing on the corner and got a bad feeling, so she started to walk faster.
"I heard footsteps behind me," says Fatima. "I got scared that someone was going to grab me."
Fatima says she saw a person wearing gloves holding a white foam cup. She says in two seconds the person splashed it in her face.
The attack was captured on a neighbor's security camera. The suspect is still on the loose. Police say the suspect fled the scene in a red 2013-2015 Nissan Altima with fog lights.
Fatima's parents started pouring water on her. She even ended up swallowing some of the substance, which police are referring to as a 'hazardous substance.' Police say the lab is still running tests to determine what it was.
"In my head I'm like, my face is going to melt," says Fatima.
Fatima suffered first- and second-degree burns to her face and her right eye and arms. She also has limited vision in one eye, and it's unclear if it will ever be fully restored. Fatima says she still can't eat solid food because of the burns in her throat.
Groups like CAIR New York are calling for this to be investigated as a hate crime. Ahmed Muhammed, with CAIR New York, says "it was gutwrenching."
"When a potential hate crime has occurred the police department owes it to everyone involved to investigate it for what it is and if it's a potential hate crime then start a hate crime investigation," says Muhammed.
"We have no evidence at this time to say it was a hate crime," says Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. "We have no evidence at this time to say it was not a hate crime."
Ryder is urging the person to surrender because the police are coming.
"I just want to understand why someone could do something this brutal to a person," says Fatima.
Anyone with information is asked to call Nassau Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS or call 911.
GoFundMe page has been set up for Fatima. More than $300,000 has already been raised for her medical expenses.  Anyone with information is asked to call Nassau Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS or call 911.Crime Stoppers is now offering up to a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect.
Rep. Kathleen Rice called for help from the New York State Hate Crimes Task Force on the case:
Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi also weighed in on the attack, saying, "This is a very nice Pakistani family who I have known for over a decade - this is their only daughter and she has her whole life ahead of her."


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