The incident happened just before 6:30 a.m. Wednesday at the deli on East Broadway on the Lower East Side.
Police said Thursday afternoon that 42-year-old Raoul Hyacinthe is under arrest and charged with robbery. Authorities say he is a panhandler who frequently hangs outside the bodega.
Officials say the victim was buying a cup of coffee when the suspect grabbed him, cocked a fist in a threatening manner, and demanded cash.
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When the man repeatedly refused, the suspect punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground.
He then fled with the victim's cane.
The victim suffered a minor head injury.
Bodega owner Sammie Zerit said the elderly man has been his customer for years.
"Very sad, I wish I was here to defend him," he said. "He's a very nice guy, help children, always very kind."
Zerit also says the same suspect had been bothering customers the day before, and dealing with the mentally ill has become a daily occurrence for his staff and customers.
"Same guy, he was crazy in the morning, break a mirror," he said. "We always call the precinct and complain about people who hang in front of the store and drink, bother customers, especially old people."
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The victim, who refused medical treatment for his injuries, was back at the bodega Thursday to buy his morning coffee.
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