6-year-old hospitalized after unprovoked attack by homeless man, police say

NEW YORK (WCBS/CNN) - Prayers are pouring in for a 6-year-old boy in the hospital with two skull fractures and a collapsed lung, according to his father.

Police say the boy was attacked by a homeless man.

"I was told that he picked him up in the air and threw him down into the ground and he banged his head fairly badly," said Yaakov Portnoy, the boy's father. "I don't wish that upon anybody. It's not normal."

Police say the attack was unprovoked.

Portnoy is struggling to fathom that his son's visit on Thursday to his grandfather in Queens turned into a nightmare.

"If everyone can keep him in their prayers," Portnoy said. "Kindness and good deeds would be great. That's all I can ask for."

Just before 5 p.m., the boy and his 10-year-old brother were waiting outside for a pizza when police say 35-year-old Laurence Gendreau approached them.

Surveillance video shows a shirtless Gendreau walking two blocks away down Metropolitan Avenue with the boys' grandfather trailing behind him, on the phone with 911.

Moments later, police arrested Gendreau.

Earlier in the afternoon, police say Gendreau was on a nearby street and snatched an 87-year-old woman's iPad and ran away.

Court records show Gendreau shouldn't have been on the street at all.

In January, he had an argument with employees at a Popeyes and threw a chair, inadvertently hitting a 72-year-old woman, according to police.

At the time, a judge determined he was not a flight risk and he was released, but then 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 say Gendreau has had at least 10 instances with the NYPD where he needed medical attention.

Gendreau is in the hospital where he's being evaluated, but police expect he'll be charged with assault and grand larceny.

Portnoy is left to wait while his son slowly recovers.

"Love them - that's all," he said. "Make sure you know that you love them because you never know what could happen."

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

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