NEW YORK (1010 WINS/WCBS 880) -- Police announced Saturday officers arrested a suspect they believe attacked a beloved 90-year-old candy store owner who’s been a fixture of the East Village for decades with a rock in front of his shop.
Ray Alvarez, owner of Ray's Candy Store, and another employee stepped outside the famed business on Avenue A for some fresh air early Tuesday morning when Alvarez's attacker came up with another man around 3 a.m.
The stranger was carrying a box filled with six-packs of seltzer, Alvarez told 1010 WINS on Thursday. The man asked Alvarez if he wanted to buy the seltzer from him. When the confectioner declined, the man told his accomplice, “Hold this package, I want to kill this bastard.”
The man started swinging a makeshift, flail-like weapon described by police as “a belt with a heavy rock on the end.”
“He swing and hit me on the left side very hard,” Alvarez said.
The rock struck Alvarez on the left side of his face and head, leaving him bleeding outside his shop, police said. He suffered a black eye and a gash to his cheek but no life-threatening injuries.
“Believe me, I was shaken up. I was in shock,” Alvarez said. “The way that he hit me, that heavy thing, I should have been dead, you know?”
The attacker fled down Avenue A, but a surveillance camera captured him on Avenue C, according to police, who released images of the suspect Thursday.
The 9th Police Precinct announced the arrest in a Tweet Saturday morning.
"Today we informed Ray that we identified and apprehended the perpetrator responsible for this heinous crime," wrote the precinct's Twitter account. "Special thanks to Warrants Section, 9th Detective Squad, and Intelligent Division."
Alvarez, who just turned 90 in January, has been operating his 24/7 candy shop across from Tompkins Square Park since 1974.
He recently made the news in November, when the community launched a GoFundMe page—and raised more than $50,000—to save his shop after he fell behind on bills.
Alvarez may be bruised, but he’s not bitter after the attack.
“I believe everybody has some goodness in them,” he said. “I like the American people. I like New York.”