A 40-year-old man approached a 2-year-old girl at random and shoved a suitcase in her face as she sat in a stroller in Lower Manhattan, police confirmed to News 4 Tuesday.
Cops said a report of the attack on the child near Bowery and Stanton Street came in shortly before 7 p.m. Monday. The child was treated by EMS at the scene.
The shaken parents talked about their ordeal, but did not wish to be identified.
"This guy was coming in my direction holding this big suitcase," the mother told NBC New York. "I thought that he was going to move as well, but he didn't — instead of move, he just kept carrying the suitcase and then it hits my daughter's face."
The mother was pushing the stroller by herself at the time of the sudden encounter. She said the man yelled at her as if she was in the wrong, somehow.
"I said something like 'hey' to him and he screamed something to me, but I actually don't remember what it was because my first reaction was taking her out of the stroller to comfort her because she was crying a lot," the mother said.
Her husband, who was not with the mom and daughter at the time of the incident, very upset and said it shows that the city is not doing well.
"When 2-year-olds are getting assaulte in your city, things are bad. And we are from a good neighborhood, rent is high here. If it's happening here, where is it safe in the city?" he asked.
The suspect, later identified as Tyriek Martin, was taken into custody, police said. He was charged with assault in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child. Attorney information was not immediately made available for Martin, who a senior NYPD official said is a repeat offender with 70 prior arrests and was wanted on two open warrants at the time of the attack.
The New York Post reported he was taken to Bellevue Hospital for psychiatric evaluation.
The child was left with a nasty scratch on her face as a result of the attack, but the parents said she was fine beyond that. The couple said they are mentally scarred by the incident, and are now hesitant to walk around the neighborhood or take their daughter to the park.
The victimized toddler's father told the Post he was outraged, telling the paper, "Attacking my child – there’s no justification,” he said. “Hit me, I can fight back, my daughter can’t."