NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are crediting some good Samaritans for stopping an attack on a Bronx woman and her 3-year-old daughter.
The dramatic moments were captured on exclusive video obtained by CBS2.
The incident happened just after 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at a building on Cauldwell Avenue.
It was just after 7:30 p.m. Wednesday that police said 28-year-old Christian Valdez, who is homeless, forced his way into 37-year-old Jenny Aquino’s apartment on Cauldwell Avenue.
That’s when police said she grabbed her daughter and tried to get away by going out onto their third floor fire escape.
“The mother was screaming, ‘Please help me, help me, he’s trying to kill me and my daughter,'” good Samaritan Rafael Lebron told CBS2’s Reena Roy.
Neighbors watched in horror as police said Valdez then dangled the little girl high above Cauldwell Avenue, threatening to throw her over the railing.
“He was ready to fling the girl from the third floor,” Lebron said. “The mother grabbed the baby and was fighting with him, struggling with him, pushing back and forth.”
Good Samaritans then teamed up and acted fast, closing in on all fronts to stop the unthinkable as some ran up to the third floor apartment to subdue Valdez.
Others were seen helping the mom and girl down the fire escape. In the video, a man can be seen climbing up and grabbing the little girl, pulling her to safety and handing her off to another neighbor.
“We told him that he’s not going anywhere. A group of people from the neighborhood started screaming at him. We held him there ’til the police came,” said Lebron. “I picked up a vase and hit him with it. We started struggling a little bit. Somebody else came and helped.”
“Everybody got together. From the projects, from everywhere, everybody got together,” one neighbor said. “Because of that little girl.”
Police said during the incident, the suspect also managed to slash Aquino in the stomach and her daughter on her arm with a glass bottle.
“The little girl, she was just trying to get her daughter to safety and get away from the situation,” one witness said. “I don’t know what he was doing up there. He was going crazy, the girl, she was hysterical. She was crying.”
Police say the homeless suspect was looking for somewhere to sleep. Sources tell CBS2 Valdez and Aquino know each other from church and that the mother had helped him out in the past.
“She knows him from church. How is somebody from church going to do something like this?” friend Melissa Petters told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez.
“She must have felt sorry for him,” another woman added.
This time, however, she said no, which police say may have provoked the attack, Roy reported. Police also told CBS2 he suffers from schizophrenia.
Both Aquino and her daughter were taken to the hospital in serious but stable condition. Police said Valdez was arrested on charges of assault, burglary, harassment and acting in a manner injurious to a child.