Video Shows Tourist Get Slugged in Times Square “Free Hugs” Attack

Investigators said the suspect has a long history of similar arrests dating back to 2013

One of the hundreds of cameras mounted throughout Times Square captured a man offering "free hugs" apparently punching a woman in the face Thursday morning, video obtained by NBC 4 New York shows. 

An EarthCam camera above the Crossroads of the World captured the man, later identified as Jermaine Himmelstein, approaching a 22-year-old Canadian woman as she walks with a friend.

The man can be seen in the footage dropping what appears to be his "free hugs" sign before punching the woman, who drops to the ground after the impact. 

Her companion briefly chases after the attacker before turning back to tend to her friend. Several other people come to the woman's aid, and after a few moments, several police officers and first responders are seen crowding around the woman, who suffered a black eye, cuts and bruises.

Photos taken after the attack show officers holding the "free hugs" sign at the site of the attack.

Himmelstein was arrested not long after and was charged with robbery and fraudulent accosting. As he was being escorted from a police precinct Thursday night he told reporters "I was aggressively asking for tips."

He'd been arrested at least seven times in the past three years for punching women, some of whom allegedly refused to give him hugs. In one attack in Washington Square Park, he allegedly told the victim "you're pissing me off, and I assault people when I'm mad." 

His parents told the New York Times in 2013 that Himmelstein had autism. A woman at his address said Friday that Himmelstein didn't take his medicine and that she was "truly sorry" for Thursday's alleged attack. 

Himmelstein was arraigned Friday on the charge. Attorney information for the man wasn't immediately available.

Himmelstein likely would have been subject to a city law passed earlier this year regulating costumed characters, desnudas and other street performers in Times Square and other public spaces. The regulation is expected to go into effect this summer.

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