Video: Homeless man snatches 3-year-old from grandmother in broad daylight, thwarted by good Samaritans

NYC is seeing surge in violent attacks by homeless suspects, as number of vagrants reaches highest level since Great Depression

Shocking video from New York City shows a homeless man suddenly snatch a 3-year-old girl from her grandmother and run off Monday in a broad-daylight kidnapping attempt in the Bronx. 

Good Samaritans intervened and rescued the 3-year-old from 27-year-old Santiago Salcedo’s clutches – before witnesses told WABC the homeless man then walked back across the street to his scooter, stared at people who called for the police, and then took off. Police located him later in the day.

Surveillance footage obtained from the BP gas station on the corner of East Tremont and Baisley avenues in Schuylerville shows a 65-year-old woman walking along the sidewalk holding hands with her two toddler grandsons on one side and her 3-year-old granddaughter on the other at about 1:20 p.m. A man seen with a comforter draped over his shoulders and back like a shawl approaches the group at the corner. He suddenly bends down and grabs the girl, wrapping her in the blanket, before quickly running off. 

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The grandmother follows after the man and her granddaughter, reportedly screaming, "He’s taking my girl! He’s taking my girl! He’s taking my baby!" according to Fermin Bracero, a 63-year-old gas station worker who was outside sweeping at the time.

"I was sweeping the sidewalk. I saw the lady passing with three kids. All of a sudden, this guy runs across the street, and wraps the little girl in a blanket," Bracero told the New York Daily News. "He tried to cut out, but a whole bunch of us got involved, so he dropped the little girl."

"The grandmother was hysterical. Hysterical. Screaming. People going crazy out here," the worker added in statements to WABC. "All of a sudden this man just picked up the little girl, wrapped her in a blanket and started running with her. He didn't get far because a lot of people tried to grab him."

The woman’s two young grandsons remained standing at the corner, one seen in the video frantically jumping up and down. Footage shows a car drive into the gas station shortly before the suspect grabs the girl and books it across the lot. Witnessing what happen, a man gets out and heads in their direction. A short while later, the homeless suspect reenters the frame alone, walking across the parking lot with just his blanket in hand as the other man appears to dial for help and returns to his car. 

Santiago Salcedo, a 27-year-old homeless man charged with the attempted kidnapping of a 3-year-old girl, smiles at media while being led out of the NYPD's 45th Precinct Monday evening. 

Santiago Salcedo, a 27-year-old homeless man charged with the attempted kidnapping of a 3-year-old girl, smiles at media while being led out of the NYPD's 45th Precinct Monday evening.  (WNYW)

Officers located Salcedo hours later sleeping in the doorway of a nearby restaurant. Salcedo allegedly told investigators "the voices in his head" told him to kidnap the girl, police sources told PIX 11. The girl was not injured but was taken to an area hospital anyway for evaluation. 

He was arrested and charged with kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child. A handcuffed Salcedo was led out of the 45th Precinct later Monday evening and into a police car, flashing a smile at reporters who had gathered outside the station. 

New York City is experiencing a surge in violent crime committed by homeless suspects. This month alone, a 16-year-old girl sitting outside a Queens sushi restaurant was strangled from behind by a homeless woman with a lengthy rap sheet, including six prior felony assaults. A 58-year-old oncology nurse from New Jersey died from injuries sustained by a homeless man who violently slammed her into the pavement outside a pizzeria in Times Square while fleeing a robbery. And at a Times Square subway station, a woman with seven prior arrests was seen shoving another woman into a moving train, leaving the victim with severe facial injuries. The female suspect was later apprehended and indicted for attempted murder. 

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Data shows that the number of single adults sleeping in municipal shelters in New York City has risen by 103% over the past decade and has continued to spike since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The New York Coalition for the Homeless says homelessness in the Big Apple has reached its highest levels since the Great Depression. There were nearly 50,000 homeless people in New York City shelters each night in the month of August, according to data gathered from the NYC Department of Homeless Services and Human Resources Administration and NYCStat shelter census reports.