A mother reacted by tackling the man who sucker-punched her 4-year-old son while on a family outing to New York City’s Time Square on Feb. 17.
“I was angry. I sprung into action,” Rafaela Rivera, a bagel factory employee, said after the incident. “The mama bear in me came out. I did what any mama would do.”
Rivera said she saw the attacker, Babacar Mbaye, swinging his arms and acting erratically before he hit her son Angel River and knocking him to the ground.
Angel’s 17-year-old sister, Carmen Rivera, was in the city with her family and witnessed the attack. “He was walking close to people moving and swinging his arm,” Carmen said. “I started watching him to see if he’d do anything.”
Rivera said she heard a “smack real hard” and turned around and saw her son on the ground. Carmen pointed her brother’s attacker out to her mother, Rivera explained. “I grabbed him from the back, and I gave him like a big bear hug, and then I fell to the ground with him,” she added. “He was moving around.”
Rivera said she sustained bruises on her arm and legs while Mbaye was struggling to get away from her. While the two wrestled, Mbaye spat on her and her daughter, but Rivera recalled saying, “I’m not going to let go, you are not going to get away, I’m going to let the cops get you for hitting my 4-year-old son.”
When New York Police officers arrived, Rivera said they told her it was time to let Mbaye go, but she held onto him until officers insisted, “We got him, let him go.”
Angel’s father, Federico Rivera, was not there at the time of the attack but said he was “very angry” to know this happened to his son.
“It’s a different New York now – forget it. The crime is out of this world,” he said. “There is no police presence like it used to be.”
Mbaye’s lawyer, Thomas Kenniff, admitted his client was on a supervised release for punching and kicking a woman in the stomach on Jan. 20 and had been released without bail on a desk appearance ticket for a Feb. 3 incident where he punched a woman in the head on the subway.