A homeless man with a history of mental illness is accused of randomly assaulting a 6-year-old boy near his grandmother’s house in New York City on Thursday, reports said.
The child was sitting on the steps of his grandparents’ home near Metropolitan Avenue in Queens. The man walked up to their driveway at around 5 p.m., said Rabbi Naftali Portnoy, the boy’s grandfather.
According to the New York Post, the homeless man grabbed the child, picked him up, and slammed his face on the ground. His brother went into the house and told his grandfather.
Portnoy called 911 and followed the vagrant, who reportedly wasn’t wearing a shirt, as he walked away.
CBS2 identified the suspect as Laurance Gendreau, and police described him as emotionally disturbed.
When police arrived and arrested the suspect, he sat down in the street and told them: “I’m bipolar,” according to the grandfather, reported the Post.
The boy was taken to the Cohen Children’s Medical Center, where he was treated for brain and facial contusions, said Portnoy. “Please keep the child in your prayers,” Portnoy told the paper.
Gendreau is now undergoing a psychiatric evaluation at a nearby hospital, but he faces several charges, including assault and harassment.
“His first words out of his mouth, ‘I’m bipolar,’ and something about ‘kill the kid, wanted to kill, I could have killed,’” Portnoy told CBS2.
“You heard that scream, you knew something serious was going on,” said Portnoy. “It’s a kid that was picked up and smashed to the ground.”
Neighbors were left on edge by the assault.
“As a parent, I’m horrified. I have three small children here and I’m always concerned about safety,” said Rabbi Gary Moskowitz.
Portnoy said the victim’s family was supposed to travel to California, but they’re now with the child in the hospital.
“The child is intubated and the child is sedated. We hope and we pray that God’s watching over him and he’ll be OK and that nothing like this happens to anyone,” Portnoy told CBS2.
“He has a concussion. He is in the pediatric intensive care unit … stable but critical condition and hopefully he will be okay,” Portnoy told ABC News.
In another recent attack in New York City, a homeless man wielding a long metal bar rampaged through Chinatown early Saturday attacking other homeless people who were sleeping, killing four and leaving a fifth with serious injuries, police said.
Police recovered the weapon, which was still in the suspect’s hands when he was arrested, officials said.
“The motive appears to be, right now, just random attacks,” Chief of Manhattan South Detectives Michael Baldassano said, adding there was no evidence yet that the victims were “targeted by race, age, anything of that nature.”
Randy Rodriguez Santos was taken into police custody early Saturday. Police say he has been arrested at least a half-dozen other times in the past two years, three times on assault charges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report