Police began questioning the 44-year-old man after noticing he matched a photo of a person wanted for questioning in robberies of women in Queens. Among those victims was 101-year-old Rose Morat, whose holdup was captured on a surveillance tape that outraged New Yorkers.
"If it's the right man, it's wonderful," Morat told The Associated Press when reached Friday by phone. But she also cautioned she wouldn't be much help to investigators: "I can't identify him. My eyes aren't that good."
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the man, who was arrested for possession of a crack pipe, was also under investigation in two other assaults on women who were beaten and robbed.
The videotape of the March 4 attack shows Morat trying to leave her apartment building to go to church.
The mugger, who looms over the senior citizen and is holding onto a bicycle, pretends to help her get through the vestibule. Then he turns to grab Morat's head and delivers three hard punches to her face, and swipes her purse. The dazed victim tries to reach for her purse when the mugger hits her again, pushing her and her walker to the ground.
He got away with $33 and Morat's house keys. She suffered a fractured cheekbone and spent time in the hospital.
Morat told the AP on Friday that she's feeling better, though her doctor has told her to try to slow down.
"I'm not fearful at all," she said. "Whatever is going to happen is going to happen."
She previously declared that if she'd been just a bit younger, she'd have gone after the guy.
The Glenridge senior center in Ridgewood, Queens, fielded a flurry of calls after the crime and said it was bringing back self-defense courses for the elderly.
The NYPD assigned dozens of detectives to the case and showed every uniformed officer in the city the surveillance video.
The state Senate's Republican majority proposed tougher penalties for assaulting an elderly person. The bill, offered by Sen. Martin Golden of Brooklyn, would make a felony of assaulting anyone more than 70 years old. Currently, the crime is a misdemeanor, punishable by no more than a year in jail.