The mother of the child told WLNY-TV that she was riding the subway on Saturday with her 2-year-old boy sleeping on her lap when a female panhandler came through the train asking for money.
When the woman came too close to the mother and her child, she asked her to stay 6 feet away, as per the social distancing guidelines.
"Ma'am, can you please stay 6 feet away?" the mother recalled saying. "Please back off."
The mother said that that woman appeared angry at the request, stepped on her foot, and then turned to attack the child. She said the panhandler punched the child 4 times before running off.
In one retelling of the story, the woman told WCBS-TV that the bystanders just watched and did not intervene while the panhandler viciously attacked her child.
"And I was just asking people like, 'yo can y'all please get my baby, please get him, like, and nobody tried to stop, like, she was standing there!" said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.
The child was taken a hospital and eventually released, but the mother said that a doctor told her the boy might experience seizures from the assault.
On Friday, the NYPD said they had identified and arrested a suspect in the case, Elizabeth Galarza, 56. She was charged with assault and act in a manner injurious to a child.
The subway system in New York City has experienced a skyrocketing crime rate with assaults and murders accelerating during the pandemic lockdown.
Here's more about the arrest:
Suspect Arrested In Attack On 2-Year-Old On Subway www.youtube.com