71-year-old Brooklyn woman sucker punched in random attack speaks out

PROSPECT LEFFERTS GARDENS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A 71-year-old woman who was punched in a random attack on a Brooklyn street is speaking out about the harrowing ordeal.

Joan Baptiste was walking on the street when the attacker approached and punched her in the face, knocking her to the ground and breaking her jaw.

The NYPD released surveillance video from the incident, which happened just before 5:30 p.m. on September 19 on New York Avenue in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens section.

After it happened, Baptiste said she just wanted to go home.

"Somebody said, 'We have to call 911,'" she said. "I said, 'I'm going home,' and they said, 'No, you have to go to the hospital because you are bleeding.'"
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Jean Baptiste suffered a broken jaw when she was randomly attacked in Brooklyn.

The mother of three and grandmother of 11 was walking home from her job at a day care on Montgomery Street when she was suddenly punched.

Baptiste said she had never met or even seen the man before and has no idea why he attacked her. She's just grateful it wasn't worse.

"God is good," she said. "It could have been worse. I could have been dead. If it had happened in the street, with vehicles coming and they pass over me, then it could have been worse. So I thank God it happened that way."

She speculates that her attacker has a criminal past.

"Somebody like that, it's a criminal," she said. "Because if you have mother or parents or family, you'd never do such thing to nobody. You did what you did. But anyway, there is a God above. He is the one to judge you, because I am a believer."

Police posted pictures of the attacker, some that showed him smiling, in hopes that someone would recognize him and call them.

Authorities said later Tuesday evening that they had a suspect in custody. 27-year-old Jaquan Whittle of Brooklyn was arrested and charged with assault.

Baptiste said she had faith that police would arrest the man who hurt her. Her friend, Caleta Ellis, said a long recovery is ahead.

"They did reconstruction surgery on her jaw, so she cannot eat solid food, only puréed food," Ellis said.

Baptiste was born in Grenada and has lived in New York City for more than 40 years. She'll continue her recovery in her apartment of 26 years.

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted by visiting the CrimeStoppers website or Twitter @NYPDTips.

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