Bank Rock Bay, where the attack occurred. Photo via Central Park Conservancy.

Police arrested a man they believe is homeless and charged him with punching a 79-year-old woman who was standing on a bridge in Central Park on Tuesday.

The woman was standing on a bridge over Bank Rock Bay near 77th Street around 5 p.m. on Tuesday taking pictures when the man approached.

“The guy was yelling about Obamacare and people taking pictures,” the woman told the Daily News. “All of a sudden he came at me. He hit me in the right side of my face. I went down.”

She got a bump on her head, the News reported. A police spokesman said she was treated at the scene.

Gean Colin, a 52-year-old believed to be homeless was charged with assault. Bail was set at $5,000, according to the News.

“I feel so sorry for him. He’s a sick man,” the victim told the News. “He was really frustrated, really angry. A lot of people are angry in New York City.”

NEWS | 35 comments | permalink
    1. Cato says:

      “He was really frustrated, really angry. A lot of people are angry in New York City.”

      True. But that’s neither a reason nor an excuse for hitting someone.

    2. Mark Moore says:

      It’s too bad when you put so many people together that just one or two nutjobs can spoil it for everyone.

    3. Better Way says:

      There has to be a better solution for treating the mentally ill than waiting for them to commit a crime serious enough that they become incarcerated, such as punching an elderly person in the face. He could easily have killed that woman.

      I see so many obviously mentally ill people in the subway, on a daily basis, sleeping on the ground or on a bench, in urine- and feces-saturated clothing that you can smell from 50-ft away. They are clearly incapable of caring for themselves in terms of even the most basic hygiene functions. And all we as New Yorkers can do is walk by and wait for one of them to become agitated enough to punch one of us?

      They need to be helped. It is inhumane and uncivilized to leave these people out in public, vulnerable to the elements, potential prey for criminal predators, or ticking time bombs.

      And the other citiznens going about their business need to be protected too.

      • Julia says:

        Okay but what’s the solution here? Round them up from the streets and put them into shelters and forcibly medicate them?

        • shlomo says:

          not a bad idea

        • Brie says:

          Sounds good to me

        • Jen says:

          Maybe. Maybe they should be forcibly medicated. I dealt with closed ones with mental illness and unless they are committed involuntary, there can harm themselves and others. And in their case, they had family committing them.

          I was also almost stubbed by a drug addict (female), I board dayligjt, I didn’t even see her, she attacked me from the side and luckily for me missed. The cops were called by paserbyers and they told me that at best she spends the night in a psychiatric ward and then, since she missed (as opposed killing me), she would be reelased. And that logic sounds normal to you?

          • Cat says:

            I can’t remember exactly what year it was, but in the early 80’s, there was a young woman who lived on 89th and CPW who came out of her building one morning to go to work, and a homeless man calmly walked up to her and stabbed her with a huge knife. Her last words were, ‘I don’t want to die,’ and that affected me profoundly. A homeless person threw a glass bottle at me and shoved into a parked car AFTER I bought him food. One of my friends was walking along 5th Avenue next to the park and a man just casually walked up and grabbed her by the hair and slammed her head against the wall. There was no indication either time that anyone was about to get violent but it happened. I am all for the mentally ill/homeless being hospitalized and forcibly medicated.

            • Bz says:

              There was also a woman who was stabbed and killed by a homeless man on 69 and CPW. I believe it happened in the the early 80’s as well. The man was coming from the park

        • Mark says:

          Yes, that is a viable solution.
          I’m liberal and I have a heart.
          But I don’t have a bleeding heart and sometimes restrictive measures need to be taken to protect the person of interest as well as the general public.
          That’s a basic reality and we have to function within the confines of reality.

      • Zurbaran says:

        Thank you for this comment. When I see homeless people who are in obvious states of distress, soiling themselves, screaming their pain to the world, I can not help but think they are not being serviced by our current mental health policies. It is not just a matter of money, although that is one very significant factor. It is more a matter of perceived civil liberties. How are these poor souls being helped in their current condition? The awful days of Creedmore and other atrocious mental hospitals should never be replicated, but our current policies are of service to no one. When the mental hospitals were closed by Mario Cuomo, people were literally dumped on the street, hence the situation we see today.

    4. Lulu says:

      There’s lots of help for them IF they want it, most do not and they want to be in the streets. liberals would flip their lids if these people were forced to do anything or go anywhere even it it was in their best interests.

      • Mark says:

        You are clearly capable only of binary thinking.
        I’m a liberal and I believe that they should be held, against their will if necessary, to protect themselves and others.

      • NYC10023 says:

        Actually, no…there’s NOT a lot of help out there if they want it. My brother is mentally ill/homeless and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken him to the hospital (out in 1-3 days) or social workers (here’s a cell phone and food stamps for you) and off he goes.
        To treat his mental illness would cost me or my family 10’s of thousands of dollars per year. There’s no free mental health care and certainly no free medication. Granted, he’s in FL so it may be different up here as far as care is concerned…but another thing to take into consideration is the fact that he lacks the capability to properly think out a strategy. It’s overwhelming for him to plan out 1. go here 2. fill out this paperwork. I imagine he’s not alone; I’m sure that many of the mentally ill people we see are in the same position. So, no, it’s not “if they wanted help they’d get it”. There’s a lot more to it that hopefully you or someone you love will never have to deal with like I am.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        if someone is dangerous to others, it is one thing. of course they should be taken off the streets.

        but let’s be very careful with these calls for “forcible medication.” of all homeless? that is backward and brutal.

        how about we construct HOUSING for them, including “supportive housing”, with mental health professionals on site? every time a facility like this tries to open in the community, we hear virulent opposition, usually from the right wingers.

        we can solve the problem but it will take commitment and money. are you dedicated to spending the money?

        • Mark says:

          Bruce – while you make a humane suggestion the problem is that you can’t force anyone to live in housing. Mental illness is unusual because sufferers often are incapable of making decisions that keep themselves and others safe. If some are not living with awareness of reality, they cannot make reality-based decisions.
          When does one person’s right to scream obscenities at passersby interfere with others’ rights to not be screamed at?

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            hi Mark,

            you raise an excellent and appropriate question.

            i don’t claim to have all the answers on this, nor to be a mental health expert. I was simply opposing some of the knee-jerk and ill-considered comments.

            yes, it is a deep and abiding problem.

        • GG says:

          Whose money?? Where is all this money coming from Bruce? These property and state and city and etc. taxes are already killing businesses and peoples personal finances. Especially in the 5 boroughs.

          How much can people take? And don’t just say tax the evil rich…blah blah blah

          Not everyone has a union and a nice pension while living in a rent controlled apt. Most of us are busting our a&#%s to live and survive in NYC.

        • Nukleopatra says:

          @Bruce… We could build loads of housing, but there will always be more mentally ill homeless people coming along. Housing is not the solution. Bringing back state mental hospitals and focusing on treatment is.

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            fyi, i think most professionals in the field conclude that what is called “Supportive housing” is both more cost-efficient and effective than Creedmoor-style mental hospitals.

        • UWS Grumpster says:

          God love you Bruce. Housing for these folks was what we used to have – mental hospitals where presumably they could get help, yet could not be a threat to others.
          I know your solution to every social issue is “give ‘me more money and tax the rich”…. but…. offering housing and counselling sounds great- but what if they’re too ill to accept help? That is actually a huge issue for social service agencies trying to help. If they won’t take help, won’t take their mess… then what? Seriously? Im a hardcore civil liberties supporter but… when I go to SAN Fran and so much of the city is off limits due to crime, needles on the street, not to mention feces and public exposure… what is a city to do?

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            if they’re too ill or dangerous to themselves or others, they should not be in supportive housing.

            however, that is not the majority of mentally ill people.

            once again, supportive housing is much less expensive, and more effective, than hospitalization.

            I was speaking out against the knee-jerk calls for “forced medication” above. that is really dangerous thinking. in fact, it’s fascistic thinking. Think of the homeless you see every day.

            And lets recall that a vast number, perhaps a majority, of homeless in NYC are families with children.

    5. Pedestrian says:

      Don’t care how angry he is. Hitting a defenseless person should land him in jail for a long time.

    6. Ellen says:

      I do not think we have to assume that liberals would flip their lids if the mentally ill were being actually treated. A sensible, well thought out program for helping the mentally ill has never been put into practice. It is expensive and that , my friends, is where fiscal conservatives can take the blame. They do not want to pay for social services even tho’ it would make all of our lives better-just ask the poor woman punched in the face.

      • Jen says:

        Completely agree, I’m a liberal and I am all pro a program that might forcibly medicate the ones who need it. Badmouthing liberals for “liberal freedoms” by conservatives as a root of the issue is ludicrous. It is all about money and not caring about people, both mentally ill and the ones who might be potentially hurt by them. It is conservatives who don’t want to spend millions way on such programs, covering by useless slogans such as “they want to be homeles” (as if they have crystal clear judgement), “it is family responsibility” (as if everyone has a supportive family”.

      • UWS Grumpster says:

        Well I don’t know about that Ellen…. what do you do if you offer the most magnificent, expensive, state of the art treatment…. and people don’t take it? You assume the mentally ill. Are so with it that if only they were offered (expensive of course) treatment, this issue would all go away. But we know that’s not what this is all about. We will always have the poor, the mentally ill, amongst us. So what do we do when their mental illlness gets in the way of their accepting treatment? I’m so tired of these trite solutions “spend more money!” When I’m not sure this is entirely a money issue. But it sure does feel smug to just demand higher taxes and more money, doesn’t it?

    7. bonnie says:

      I think the homeless would have a better chance in a warm climate where the cost of living is affordable.

      • Karen says:

        Not all the homeless are mentally ill. But those who are need to be delt with differently and kept off the streets so they will not be a danger to others or themselves.

    8. sg says:

      It’s the 80/20 rule (or probably more like 95/5)…the city’s primary focus has to be on protecting the majority (who no doubt fund the city’s coffers) first and whatever is necessary to accomplish this.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        a very very dangerous sentiment: “whatever is necessary.” you mean the so-called non-majority forfeit legal rights?

        if this is NOT what you mean, i hope you would make that clear.

    9. ScooterStan says:

      Re: “A lot of people are angry in New York City.”

      Maybe, but there are also a lot more who are:
      a) ecstatically happy;
      b) just plain happy;
      c) more happy-than-sad;
      d) content with their city.

      As for the unhappy-to-angry crowd, perhaps they can be shown the way to one of the bridges/tunnels leading OUT of the city.

      Barring that, can we teach them to copy “Howard Beale” (Peter Finch) in Chayefsky’s great 1976 film “Network” (4 Oscar’s) and shout: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

      That should make them feel all better.

    10. Native says:

      Build housing. Where? Put your hand up please if you want the building next door to you to be turned into public housing for the mentally ill or homeless. Heartless? Terrified is more like it. There is a man Jim- who sits on a bench -lives on a bench at the entrance to the park on west 86th street. Many of you may have seen him. He was there all winter in the bitter cold. When it got really bad, he would say he was having chest pains and people would call an ambulance. He was always back a day or two later. His life is terrible and sad. Does he have a family? Probably. Someone has written about their own struggle with a mentally ill family member. If their caring families can’t help them, who can? Sad situation. Jim gets angry. When he does, he is downright dangerous.

      • Christina says:

        @ Native… I grew up next to a SRO and public housing on the Upper West Side and Nothing out of the ordinary happened that didn’t happen next to a more affluent building! So really you shouldn’t be stereotyping!

        • Native says:

          I don’t think being wary of people with mental health problems who are punching the elderly in the head with out provocation is a leap to stereotyping. Own a co op or condo on the upper west side much?

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            being wary of “a person with mental health problems who has punched elderly in the head” is, indeed, not stereotyping. making the assumption that the average person with mental health problems goes around punching the elderly in the head, or that a supportive housing facility will increase crime on the block, IS stereotyping.

            As is the assumption that coop and condo owners care more about safety on a block than do rent-stabilized tenants.