8-year-old boy randomly punched in head on subway in Lower Manhattan

LOWER MANHATTAN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Police have arrested a man after an eight-year-old boy was punched on the subway.

The boy, who has autism, was punched by a complete stranger in the back of the head.

Alex Bienaime, 40, is charged acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17, and assault. Police say the suspect is homeless.

Investigators say it happened Monday around 8:40 p.m. as the train pulled into the Fulton Street station in Lower Manhattan.

They say the boy was with his mother when the suspect walked up to him and just punched him in the back of the head without saying a single word. The suspect then ran away.

"There was a Good Samaritan that came on afterwards after he struck the child. That child tried to intercede, and tried to stop him from doing anything further. But then he ended up running away," said NYPD Assistant Chief William Aubry.

The boy was taken to an area hospital for some swelling, but was treated and released. He is expected to be okay.

Late Tuesday afternoon, sources tell Eyewitness News that a rider spotted him on another downtown train and called police.

The latest incident has raised some familiar questions about the safety of the city's subway system - is crime up down under?

"No. Short answer is no. Still averaging between six and seven crimes a day - about 6.5 That's about one million riders per day,: said Transit Chief Edward Delatorre.

However, for some straphangers, perception is reality.

"I take the subway every day, and it is feeling unsafer every day," says Gina Jordan.

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