NY Police: Homeless man beats boy, 6, in unprovoked attack


NEW YORK (CNN) — Prayers are pouring in for a 6-year-old still in the hospital after being viciously attacked by a homeless man in Queens in what police said was an unprovoked attack.

“I don’t wish that upon anybody,” said Yaakov Portnoy, the victim’s father. “It’s not normal.”

Portnoy, of East Meadow, Long Island, is struggling to fathom that his son’s visit to his grandfather in Kew Gardens, Queens, Thursday turned into a nightmare.

Just before 5 p.m., the 6-year-old boy was outside with his 10-year-old brother waiting for pizza when police said Laurence Gendreau, 35, approached.

“I was told that he picked him up in the air and threw him down onto the ground and he banged his head fairly badly,” Portnoy said. “He has two fractures in his skull, collapsed lung.”

Surveillance video shows Gendreau shirtless walking two blocks away down Metropolitan Avenue, and trailing behind him is the boy’s grandfather who was on the phone with 911. Moments later, police arrested Gendreau.

Police said earlier in the afternoon Thursday, Gendreau was on nearby Union Turnpike and Austin Street, where he allegedly snatched an iPad from an 87-year-old woman and fled.

Records show Gendreau shouldn’t have been on the streets at all. In January, he allegedly had an argument with employees at a Popeyes’ restaurant on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan and he threw a chair, inadvertently hitting a 72-year-old woman.

At the time, the judge determined Gendreau was not a flight risk and he was released on his own recognizance. A bench warrant was issued in February when he didn’t show for his next court appearance.

There are three sealed arrests dating back to 2017 for criminal mischief and larceny.

Police sources said Gendreau has had at least 10 instances with the NYPD where he needed medical attention for issues.

As for the victim of his latest incident, Portnoy said his mind is only on his son.

“If everyone can keep him in their prayers,” he said. “Kindness and good deeds would be great. That’s all I can ask for. Love them. That’s all. Make sure you know that you love them because you never know what could happen.”

Gendreau is in the hospital, where he’s being evaluated. He is expected to be charged with assault and grand larcney.

In light of this and last week’s fatal attack on homeless men in Chinatown, the mayor announced a 30-day review of the city’s mental health services.

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