A man has been arrested for allegedly assaulting the 90-year-old owner of an iconic 24-hour candy shop in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood, according to the New York Police Department.
Luis Peroza, 39, was arrested Friday on charges of assault for allegedly striking Ray Alvarez, the owner of Ray’s Candy Store, in the head and face three days earlier, NYPD said in a news release.
Around 3 a.m. Tuesday, Peroza allegedly approached Alvarez while carrying a package and asked Alvarez if he wanted to buy it, according to police. When Alvarez asked what was inside the package, the suspect asked another man to hold the package and told Alvarez “he was going to kill him,” police said.
The suspect then assaulted Alvarez, using an object described as “a belt with a heavy rock on the end causing bleeding” before fleeing on foot, the NYPD said.
“I’m kind of black and blue,” Alvarez told CNN affiliate NY1 after the attack. “I’m not really in a mood for anything. I just want to lay down.”
Peroza was arraigned Sunday, with bail set at $200,000 cash, according to NY1.
It is unclear whether Peroza has legal representation.
“New York’s Finest never rests,” Mayor Eric Adams tweeted Saturday. “Thank you to the NYPD for their quick work in bringing the suspect behind the attack on the legendary Ray’s Candy Store to justice.”
Ray’s Candy Store is known for its candy, milkshakes, fried Oreos, egg creams, hot dogs and more. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has been an institution in New York since 1974.
Alvarez had served in the Iranian Navy and made his way to New York after jumping into the ocean when his ship docked in Virginia, according to his profile on the ongoing photography project “Humans of New York.”
An Instagram post about the incident by Nicolas Heller, a filmmaker known as New York Nico who documents the stories of unique New Yorkers, garnered over 130,000 likes.
“Ray wanted me to tell all of his customers and supporters that he is feeling much better and is still making his famous fried Oreos. Stop by and show him some love,” Heller wrote. The post included a photo and video of Alvarez, visibly bruised and wearing a hat with the words “New York Old Soul.”
Many others also shared their own photos and posts about the candy store on social media following the incident.
Alvarez’s store was recently in danger of closing due to financial difficulties related to the Covid-19 pandemic, but friends and local community members crowdsourced money to save the shop.
A GoFundMe launched in November to support the candy store has since seen donations soar to over $59,000.