NEW YORK – For a moment, the man in the grainy video looks like a good Samaritan holding the door open for an elderly neighbor. Then he turns and delivers three sharp punches to the 101-year-old woman's head.
"The next thing I knew, I had a big bang on the side of my face," said Rose Morat, who suffered a fractured cheekbone and lost her purse and $33 to the mugger.
The attack was captured by a surveillance camera in the lobby of her Queens apartment building last Sunday.
"I'm quite sure that if it had happened when I was younger, I would have been after him," she said. "I'm a very strong woman. I've been that way my whole life."
Police said the same man is believed to have later attacked a second elderly woman in the neighborhood. Investigators were searching for a suspect Saturday.
"We are pulling out all the stops to find him," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a statement. "We want to stop him before he strikes again."
Morat said she was headed to church when she met the man in her lobby. He offered to help her make her way out, but she declined.
"I know how to handle myself," she said.
As Morat maneuvered her walker through the building's small vestibule, the man slowly put his bicycle against the wall, turned, and attacked her, the security video showed.
Her hat flew off, but she remained on her feet as the man removed her bag and felt her coat pockets.
Then, before making his escape, he punched her in the head again and shoved her to the ground.
Morat spent three days in the hospital.
The 85-year-old woman believed to be the mugger's second victim, Solange Elizee, told police she was punched and pushed to the floor outside her apartment door by a man who had initially offered to help her get home.
"I like to help old people," he said before turning violent, according to Elizee.
The man took her purse and got away with $32, police said.
"God saved my life," she said.