WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (PIX11) – A subway rider broke an MTA train operator’s teeth with a metal pipe during an assault on a train in New York City Sunday, police said.

The attack happened on a northbound C train at the 168th Street subway station in Washington Heights in Manhattan around 11:45 p.m., according to the NYPD.

The 37-year-old MTA train operator was trying to clear the train of passengers while at the station due to the train going out of service, police said.

One of the passengers started arguing with the train operator and disobeyed his command to leave the train, according to police. The passenger cursed out the MTA worker and said, “Call the police, they know me,” according to Transport Workers Union Local 100.

Eventually the passenger picked up his belongings and started to leave, but before exiting the train he pulled out a metal pipe and struck the train operator in the mouth, a union spokesperson said.

The train operator suffered two broken teeth and required 15 stitches, the union spokesperson said. He was taken to a hospital after the attack.

The assailant fled out of the subway station and hasn’t been arrested. The NYPD released surveillance images of the suspect being sought.

The spokesperson for Transport Workers Union Local 100 said that felony and misdemeanor assaults against subway workers rose 63% (27 to 44) during the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.

“We are seeing more police officers in the subway system, which is a good thing, but we’re also seeing the same people get arrested repeatedly, only to get released and come right back to the stations, trains, and platforms, where they again are a threat. Elected officials, judges, prosecutors, and mental health officials must do much more. This is unacceptable,” Richard Davis, president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, said in a statement.

New York City Transit President Richard Davey condemned the violence against the MTA worker.

“One instance of violence against transit employees is one too many,” Davey said in a statement. “Our employees are just trying to move hard-working New Yorkers around the city, and being assaulted while doing their jobs is outrageous. We will work closely with the NYPD to ensure this perpetrator is caught, and that the DA throws the book at him. Keeping our workers safe is keeping our customers safe, and that’s our top priority.”

Submit tips to police by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visiting crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, downloading the NYPD Crime Stoppers mobile app, or texting 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Spanish-speaking callers are asked to dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).