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Face mask leads NYPD to ex-con accused of mugging 84-year-old veteran in Queens, victim says

84-year-old Queens veteran fights of mugger
Posted at 5:18 PM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-21 17:36:04-04

WOODSIDE, Queens — DNA from a mask, ripped off the face of an alleged mugger by an 84-year-old Queens man, led to the recent arrest of a parolee, court and state records show.

PIX11 News has learned Angel Cruz, 46, was picked up last week by detectives from the 108th Squad, who notified Oliver Neligan, a retired MTA worker and military veteran, about the arrest. Neligan quoted the cops who told him the news at his apartment in Woodside.

"They said, 'We have him in custody, and the DNA matched what was on the mask. And he's a career criminal,'" Neligan said.

Neligan, an Irish immigrant, told PIX11 News his mugging story in early August, taking us to the scene of the reported crime on 60th Street near Queens Boulevard. He told us he had just bought coffee and was walking to 8 a.m. Sunday Mass when he noticed a younger man walking close by.

"When I went to take a sip of my coffee, he jumped me from the back and put his hands around my neck," the octogenarian recalled. "Then he grabbed me and I kind of wrestled with him, and we went down."

Despite hitting his head on a wall during the scuffle, Neligan started to get up. That's when the would-be mugger allegedly pulled eyeglasses out of Neligan's pocket.

"I grabbed the mask out from his face and he took off running," Neligan said.

"He didn't get my money," he added with satisfaction.

Neligan suffered bruising, swelling, bleeding and an abrasion to his head, according to the criminal complaint. He also suffered an abrasion and bleeding on his right elbow, an abrasion and bleeding on his left wrist and bruising, bleeding and an abrasion above his right eye.

The grandfather of four told PIX11 he was upset that senior citizens couldn't safely go to church or do their shopping in the area without fears of being mugged.

DNA from the face mask matched a sample on file with New York State's DNA database, and police picked up Angel Cruz Sept. 15.

Cruz has a rap sheet dating back to 1994, when he was 20 years old.

He did time for selling drugs in 1999 and then spent more than a decade in state prison for drug sales, from 2002 to 2014, according to the New York State Department of Corrections website.

In Neligan's case, Cruz was arraigned Friday on charges of Robbery 2nd degree, Assault 2nd degree, and Robbery in the 3rd degree. Cruz did not make the bail set at $25,000 cash and remains in custody on Rikers Island.