Cops collared a pitiless punk Tuesday who pounded an 81-year-old Queens grandfather so badly he suffered serious brain damage – and now thinks it’s 1947.
“I don’t remember anything,” Mayer Behmoiras told the Daily News Tuesday night as he sat in a wheelchair, rubbing his fractured skull.
Behmoiras, still hospitalized a week after the savage attack, spoke shortly before cops nabbed the merciless thug who brutalized him and stole his keys in the hallway of the Astoria apartment building where he has lived for 60 years.
He then fled in the elderly man’s 2001 Hyundai Elantra. After the NYPD publicized the case Tuesday, an anonymous tipster called the Crime Stoppers hotline and dropped a dime on Jesus (Chu Chu) Fernandez, 23.
Once the tipster told cops Fernandez was their man, officers from the 114th Precinct knew exactly where to find the known troublemaker, police sources said. Fernandez was quickly arrested at the Astoria Houses, where he lives, and where Behmoiras’ Hyundai was recovered, police sources said.
The NYPD’s collar pleased Behmoiras’ family, but whatever relief they felt in Fernandez facing justice was tempered by a tragic reality. Behmoiras’ family didn’t immediately tell him about the arrest last night because, with his mind drifting in and out of lucidity, they feared he might not understand.
“Sometimes he thinks Lyndon Johnson is President; other times he thinks it is 1947,” said Behmoiras’ son Albert, 38, who noted he will tell his father this morning. “If he can understand – and I’m hoping that he will – he will be very happy,” the anguished son said, his mind at a loss to comprehend why the car thief acted with such devastating violence.
“One of the hardest parts for us is understanding why someone would do this to an 81-year-old man? Why?” the younger Behmoiras said. “He would have given you the keys. He would have given you the money in his pocket.”
Police believe Fernandez followed Behmoiras out of a parking garage as he returned home from his biweekly bingo game last week. As the octogenarian – who stands just 5-feet-2 – put his key in his apartment door, Fernandez grabbed him from behind and viciously threw him to the ground, police said.
Behmoiras’ wife, Fran, 72, said she heard her husband fiddling with the door – and then heard the horrifying thud. She immediately thought the worst. “I thought he was dead,” Fran Behmoiras said. “All the neighbors came out.” Fernandez, who confessed, was slapped with charges of robbery, assault and other counts. He was expected to be arraigned today. Albert Behmoiras said it was heartbreaking to think his father might have permanent brain damage.
“He worked at Macy’s for 48 years,” he said. “And when I see him now, he insists that I give him a receipt for merchandise I’m returning.” Mayer Behmoiras had quadruple bypass surgery four years ago, but was in robust health, doting on his ailing wife, who has severe rheumatoid arthritis. “He used to do everything for her. Now he can’t,” Albert Behmoiras said. “My father will never be able to do those things for her – and maybe even himself – again.”