Maria Fuertes' body was discovered on the sidewalk near Liberty Avenue and 127th Street in Richmond Hill just after midnight Monday, and now, 21-year-old Reeaz Kahn has been arrested.
Investigators say he is the same person seen in surveillance video released Thursday in connection with the investigation, and he was taken into custody at some point overnight at a nearby homeless shelter.
"This was senseless, brutal act of violence," Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said.
WATCH: NYPD briefing on charges pending in the murder of 92-year-old Maria Fuertes
Police say Fuertes was collecting bottles and cans for recycling money when she was approached from behind, assaulted, and knocked to the ground. She was found lying there with neck and back injuries.
"There was some sort of physical contact between the two, between Mrs. Fuertes and this unknown male, that caused them both to fall to the ground, where they landed behind a parked car," a police official said. "The perpetrator and the victim were out of view for approximately four to five minutes, at which point the subject suddenly reappears and runs northbound on 127th Street. Mrs. Fuertes remains on the ground."
The victim's son, Luis Fuertes, said he wants the attacker to pay for what he did to his mother, but he is grateful that police were able to get video of the suspect.
Maria Fuertes was known around the neighborhood as the local "cat lady" or "grandma, and residents say she was beloved in the neighborhood and would come out late at night to feed the stray animals.
Neighbors said she was an amazing woman who took care of the entire neighborhood -- not just the dogs and cats.
"It's upsetting because this is an old woman," neighbor Anthony Davis said. "What need do you need to attack her or hurt her? She has never done nothing to anyone."
After conducting an autopsy, the medical examiner ruled that her injuries were intentional, and that she suffered injuries to her private area.
"She was a sweet lady," neighbor Aneil Ram said. "We all knew her since we were small and it's sickening to even hear something like that happening to her."
Kahn has a prior arrest for felony assault involving another family member, after police say he slashed his father in the chest and arm with a broken coffee mug on November 26.
After he was arrested, he reportedly claimed he was angry at his mother.
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