Maria Fuentes was knocked to the ground after being approached from the back on Monday, Jan. 6

By Robyn Merrett
January 10, 2020 12:58 AM

An elderly New York woman, known for her love of cats and passion for taking care of her community, has tragically died following a brutal attack.

Just after midnight on Monday, police were called to 127th street where they discovered 92-year-old Maria Fuertes lying in the street “unconscious and unresponsive,” New York Police Department revealed in a press release obtained by PEOPLE.

Police say Fuertes was approached from behind and assaulted. Fuertes was knocked to the ground in the attack and was left suffering severe trauma to her neck and back.

EMS also responded to the scene and transported Fuertes to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

Fuertes’ cause of death has not yet been determined.

Surveillance footage from the scene shows Fuertes being approached and then attacked by a man, who police described as having an “average build, black hair and brown eyes.”

At the time of the incident, he was seen wearing a black jacket, dark-colored pants and black shoes, police said.

Police have also shared a photo of the man in hopes of encouraging anyone to come forward with information.

Fuertes’ death has sent shockwaves throughout her Queens neighborhood, where residents say she lived her entire life, NBC New York reported.

“If something like this can happen to an old lady like this, what else is going to happen to any other female,” neighbor Aneil Ram told NBC New York.

Ram also spoke of Fuertes’ love of cats, sharing her doorstep was always filled with cat food cans.

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“She lived for her cats,” Ram told NBC New York. “She lived for her family, and it’s a very sick thing, what happened to her.”

Neighbor Anthony Davis spoke out to ABC7NY saying, “It’s upsetting because this is an old woman.”

“What need do you need to attack her or hurt her? She has never done nothing to anyone,” Davis told the news outlet.

Neighbors believe Fuertes was feeding cats at the time of the attack, NBC New York reported.