Shocking video footage revealed when the vagrant tried to make off with the youngster who was walking with her grandmother and two brothers in the Bronx.
Surveillance camera footage shot at a gas station examines the woman walking with the three children, a girl, and two grandsons, only as a vagrant crosses the road and walks towards the group.
In a moment, the man quickly wraps the girl up in a comforter and runs off with her much to the horror of the different kids and the 65-year-old grandma who promptly gave chase.
Her two grandsons could only watch on in horror as the man ran off with their sister. One of the little boys could be viewed bouncing up and down in sheer terror.
She was joined by a group of courageous public members, including one man who was loading up his car at a BP gas station in the Schuylerville area of the borough.
The man scared the abductor into freeing the little girl, who then fled on a scooter.
"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," announced Armin Bracero, 63, to the New York Daily News. "He tried to cut it out, but a whole bunch of us got involved, so he dropped the little girl.
"She started screaming, the grandmother, "My little girl! My little girl!" She was hysterical. It was like a movie, but this is real life. It was crazy," Bracero announced.
Police caught the suspect, Santiago Salcedo, 27, later in the day sleeping in a doorway.
On Monday evening, he was charged with kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, and child endangerment and could be viewed grinning for the cameras as he was taken into custody on Monday night.
The attempted abduction is part of a wave in violent crime committed by homeless suspects in New York City and comes as the number of single adults sleeping in municipal shelters fastened by 103 percent in the past decade and has maintained to soar since the coronavirus pandemic.
In the past few years, NYC homelessness has reached its highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s, according to the New York Coalition for the Homeless. According to the agency, there were 47,979 homeless people, including 14,881 homeless children, sleeping each night in the NYC municipal shelter system in August 2021. In the same month, there were 18,357 single adults in shelters.