New York

Notorious Spitting Woman of Upper East Side Arrested: Police

What to Know

  • The woman has allegedly been spitting and screaming at passersby on Upper East Side streets for the last few years
  • Her son was also taken into custody and charged with menacing and other crimes; the mother has not yet been charged
  • Both mother and son are homeless and considered mentally ill, sources say

The infamous spitting woman of the Upper East Side has been arrested after police say she spit on a 7-year-old boy three times over a period of several months.

Hilda Barrionuevo, 65, who has become notorious for spitting and screaming at passersby on the streets over the past couple of years, was taken into custody along with her son Thursday, police say. 

Barrionuevo is accused of spitting a 7-year-old boy three times from June 2016 through January 2017. His parents went to police on March 29 as media outlets reported on the woman's spit attacks. 

Barrionuevo was found with $19,000 cash at the time of her arrest. Police believe the money came from bottle collection over the years, according to sources. 

Barrionuevo's son, 41-year-old Gabriel Uno, was also arrested, though he's facing charges in a different encounter. Police say he threatened a person with a part of a table on East 81st Street and yelled, "Get the [expletive] out of here" on March 19.

That happened on the Upper East Side on March 19, though it's not yet clear if it was on the street. 

Uno was arrested on charges of menacing, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. 

Both mother and son are homeless and considered mentally ill, sources say. Uno has been arrested eight times in the past, including for assault. 

Neighbors on the Upper East Side say they've been terrorized by Barrionuevo for years. 

"She would scare you," said Paul Belz. "You'd be walking down the street, she always hang behind the steps -- not on the stoop but behind it -- and you'd usually get a nice loud spot or a scream and it would catch you off guard."

"Spitting and screaming, like very loud, very loud screaming, that if a mother and kids are passing by, they jump," said Sidney Cohen. "I jump when I hear her." 

Barrionuevo and Uno often took shelter under an awning outside a restaurant, and they showered on the street using a hose, according to neighbors. 

News 4 reported Monday that neighbors launched a petition urging police to take action, but NYPD's 19th Precinct Captain Bill Gallagher said at the time it's not that easy. 

"If it's a crime, we'll enforce the law -- but an individual who just needs help, we'll get them the help they need without arresting them," he said Monday. 

Even if police take the woman off the streets, the Department of Homeless Services says it can't necessarily hold her. 

The Department of Homeless Services said in a statement Monday, "It can take anywhere from one dozen to more than 200 contacts to bring homeless New Yorkers indoors." 

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