Suspect arrested in 93-year-old woman's East Harlem mugging

Friday, September 9, 2016
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Darla Miles has more from East Harlem.

EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- A 26-year-old man has been arrested in the East Harlem mugging of a 93-year-old woman in a wheelchair.

Authorities say Broyoan Lopez, of Brooklyn, is charged with robbery, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.

The NYPD Warrant Squad reportedly picked him up near Grand Central Terminal just before 7 a.m. Friday.

"He hurt me, he hurt me right there and in the arm right there," victim Maria Vasquez said. "Because I tried to grab him, but he pushed my arm away. And that's where I got hurt."

Vasquez was just trying to buy slippers from Regine's on East 116th Street in Harlem on Friday when police say Lopez stuck his hands in her bra and took the $600 in Social Security money that she had cashed a few doors down.

It bothered the store owner Josh Cohen so much that he cut a $600 check and gave it to Vasquez Friday afternoon, and he threw the slippers in for free.

Just an hour earlier, Lopez had left the 25th Precinct in handcuffs.

"It's better, yes, my heart is pleased," she said. "Because when you do something like this, something is wrong with you."

Police say Lopez followed Vasquez from Banco Popular and grabbed her cash when her home health aide turned away.

"God gave him two arms so he can work, but he decides to rob helpless people," Vasquez said.

Vasquez never saw it coming and had only mere seconds to react and utter a scream.

"Right away, he puts his hands on me, because he knew where the money was," she said. "I said, run, run, run there taking my money."

Surveillance cameras from inside the clothing store captured the ruthless thief Wednesday afternoon.

At first, you can see the suspect browsing the racks, then scoping out Vasquez, creeping up from behind her wheelchair to swipe the envelop full of cash from her bra.

"I feel terrible, and just keep thinking about it," Vasquez said.

As she called out for help, the suspect quickly slipped back out the front door and down East 116th Street. But by Friday, he was behind bars.