Suspect arrested in violent Astoria robbery of elderly man

robbery Astoria
Video courtesy of NYPD

Update 1:09 p.m.

A teary-eyed confession on an Astoria street corner has led to the arrest of a man in the violent robbery of an elderly deli customer earlier this week, authorities said.

Charles Piccolo, 37, has been charged with robbery and assault in the attack, according to police.

The 78-year-old victim, identified in media reports as Elias Bournias, was buying cigarettes from the front window of the store on 31st Street near Ditmars Boulevard at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday when he was robbed.

The suspect tossed Bournias to the ground, injuring the back of his head, before grabbing $430 from him, authorities said.

EMS took Bournias to Elmhurst Hospital, where he received five staples to his head.

The suspect saw Bournias with the large wad of cash just before robbing him, authorities said. Bournias told WABC he should have been more careful about concealing his money, but never expected to be attacked.

“I didn’t expect at 10 o’clock in the morning, on busy street with cops all the time,” he said. “I didn’t expect it, that’s why I was careless. I wasn’t careful.”

The day after the attack, police released surveillance footage of the robbery.

Police said after reviewing the video, they believed the suspect was Piccolo, who has been arrested three times in the past year for drug possession within their same precinct.

After keeping a look out for Piccolo, they spotted him about 6:40 p.m. Thursday night at the corner of 35th Street and Astoria Boulevard, not far from the site of the crime. When they approached him, he began to cry and admitted to robbing the victim.

According to the district attorney’s office, at the time his arrest, police allegedly recovered a gravity knife from his pants pocket and he was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon.