Babacar Mbaye approached 43-year-old Rafaela Rivera and her two children around 3:20 p.m. in Times Square, according to police.
Rivera said they had just finished a photoshoot for her son, Angel Rivera, and were taking a walk to enjoy the weather when she noticed Mbaye walking oddly towards them.
"I heard a smack like somebody got hit in the head with a bottle. I turn around and the baby is screaming hollering and crying," Rivera said.
According to police, that smack was from Mbaye swinging a closed fist at the boy, striking him in the head.
"The guy was walking weird and I was looking at him and I fell down on my head," the boy said. That's when the mom sprang into action and tried to take down Mbaye.
"I was grabbing toward him and said, 'Hey, you just hit my son," she said. "I grabbed him harder, and we both went down. He was on top of me, and I was not letting go."
“I was ticked off, I was outraged,” says Rafaela Rivera after her son Angel, 4, was randomly punched in the head in Times Square. This was the wrong mama to mess with…she went after her son’s attacker. The story on @ABC7NY #nyc #wabc #ch7 #TimesSquare pic.twitter.com/oZG53jqT8P— Naveen Dhaliwal (@NaveenABC7) February 20, 2022
Officers arrived as the mother was holding Mbaye down.
She said Angel's head is a little red where he was struck but that he's okay.
"I didn't think it would happen," Rivera said. "We didn't even take the subway because of everything going on in the subway. We took a cab."
Mbaye has been charged with assault and endangering the welfare of a child.