It was a terrifying story: Lizzie Dunn said she was walking down the street in Staten Island, New York, on Monday when a stranger approached her with a question.
“I didn’t know the person,” the 52-year-old told the New York Daily News. “She asked me for cigarette and I told her no.”
Dunn said the woman then asked if she could spare some money. She again refused, she said.
Then came the attack, she told police. Dunn said the alleged attacker forcibly turned her around and threw some type of acid on her face, leaving her with second-degree burns on her scalp and the left side of her face, Staten Island Live reported.
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“It seemed like she was spraying a lot of times, like she had to keep pressing nozzle,” Dunn told CBS New York. “With my right hand I tried to grab the can and knock it out of her hand and with the left hand I was trying to shield whatever spray she was misting on me.”
But it all turned out to be a lie, police told NBC New York.
There was no stranger asking for money who sprayed Dunn, police say, because she sprayed herself and fabricated the story.
After she disfigured herself with the acid, police say, Dunn stumbled into a nearby deli, frantically asking for someone to call 911.
“We thought it was a prank at first,” Andrew Kenwood, who was working at the deli, told NBC. “She came in here, she was banging on the door, banging on the door. She was almost fainting and falling. … When I tell you it was absolutely horrible — it looks like her face is melting off.”
Police arrived after Kenwood called 911. Dunn told officers that a black woman in her mid-40s assaulted her with the caustic substance. But police later determined that Dunn, who they say had other scars from self-inflicted wounds in the past, sprayed herself with acid from her home, the New York Daily News wrote.
She also admitted to making up the story, police told WABC. It’s not yet known if she will face any charges for filing a false report to the police.