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Woman robbed while breastfeeding infant in park: cops

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 9:59 PM

Elena Sobina was breast-feeding her 6-month-old daughter Kelly in Fort Tryon Park when she was attacked.Gregg Vigliotti/For New York Daily News

Elena Sobina was breast-feeding her 6-month-old daughter Kelly in Fort Tryon Park when she was attacked.

A heartless, knife-wielding robber preyed on a victim Wednesday in her most vulnerable moment — while she was breastfeeding her sleeping baby on a Manhattan park bench, cops said Wednesday.

The attacker found 39-year-old Elena Sobina feeding her tiny 6-month-old daughter, Kelly, on a bench perched on a hill in Fort Tryon Park near Riverside Drive around 5:30 p.m. Friday, the mother told the Daily News on Wednesday.

“There’s an observation station with benches up in the hills,” Sobina said. “I like the place. It was quiet. I could breast feed the baby.”

Tiny Kelly fell asleep in her mother’s left arm as Sobina held her phone in her right hand, she said.

But the scene of maternal repose came to a quick end.

“Someone was standing behind me — I could feel it,” Sobina said. “It’s hard to remember what happened in that moment — he pushed me onto the ground, the baby fell. I was above her.”

Huddling over her screaming daughter — whose lip was cut and scraped by the fall — Sobina pleaded with the attacker as he loomed over her with the knife.

“I was screaming ‘Please, please, take the bag with the money!’ The bag was hanging on the stroller, and I was crawling away from him with Kelly,” she said. “I thought he would kill me.”

She kept screaming, she said, hoping to alert anyone nearby, as the creep — identified as 31-year-old Juan Garcia — snatched her bag and fled, leaving the horrified mom and baby behind.

Still in shock, Sobina said she put her daughter in her stroller and started dashing in the direction of the menace, but found a Good Samaritan walking in the park who called the cops.

Police from the 34th Precinct stationhouse were able to track Garcia — who had snatched Sobina’s iPhone and backpack — using a phone tracking app.

The callous crook, who had prior arrests for drugs, burglary, and possession of stolen property, was picked up around two hours later at Broadway and W. 223 St., cops said.

He was charged with robbery, criminal possession of a weapon, endangering the welfare of a child, and grand larceny. He was remanded and set to appear in court on Thursday.

A string of robberies had been reported in the park prior to the attack, police said.Jefferson Siegel/for New York Daily News

A string of robberies had been reported in the park prior to the attack, police said.

Sobina, an actress who will appear as an extra in the upcoming Tina Fey film “Sisters,” moved to the city from Ukraine when her family left the town of Chernobyl following the Soviet nuclear meltdown when she was 10 years old.

She said it wasn’t the first time she had seen Garcia.

Around a week earlier, the young mom was in nearly the same spot in the park with her daughter when Garcia had approached her, but quickly changed course when she made eye contact with him.

“I saw him maybe when he was 3 or 4 feet away,” she said. “He turned and left. At the time I didn’t think it was serious. I kept coming back to the park.”

A string of robberies had been reported in the park prior to the attack, police said.

The day before Sobina was robbed, police arrested a trio of teens and charged Cqualiek Jarrell, 16, a 14-year-old and 15-year-old with attacking a man and stealing his bag, cops said. The teens were also suspects in five other attacks since Oct. 23, police said.

jstepansky@nydailynews.com


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