Police arrested a woman who witnesses say attacked a fitness buff with a cellphone charger at random as the gym rat was leaving her Downtown health club on Monday morning around 9 am.
Sharri Mendez was down the street from the gym on Duffield Street between Willoughby and Fulton streets when the suspect, walking down the sidewalk in the opposite direction, whipped her in the neck with the charger without warning, Mendez and witnesses said.
Debra West, another gym-goer, was headed to the fitness center when the attack occurred and called 911, she said. Mendez fought back and the suspect was yelling nonsensically as the two duked it out, West said.
“She was rambling like she was on drugs,” she said.
The suspect bit Mendez on the forearm and had her own shirt torn wide open down the front in the knock-down, drag-out fight that ensued, according to witnesses and the victim. Eventually Mendez broke free and hopped in the nearest police car as West followed the suspect on foot, according to the two.
Police zeroed in on the suspect on Willoughby Street at Duffield Street and arrested her as a crowd gathered.
One bystander said that the middle-aged Mendez held her own in the brawl.
“That old lady was throwing down!” said Downtown clean-up worker Raheem Muhammad. “She said, ‘That’s why we go to the gym.’ ”
Mendez appeared rattled but walked off on her own. She said her assailant needed psychiatric attention.
“She’s psychotic. You need to take her to Bellevue,” Mendez said, referring to the Manhattan hospital known for its mental health facilities.
West offered some parting advice.
“See you tomorrow,” she said to Mendez. “But bring a bat.”
Cuffed in the back of a patrol car, the suspect lashed out at officers with schoolyard insults.
“You doo-doo-eyes b—-! You doo-doo-faced b—-!” she yelled, repeatedly.
Police put leg shackles on the woman and dressed her in a hooded sweatshirt before transferring her to an FDNY ambulance.
Muhammad said that random acts of violence happen “all the time” Downtown but that in this instance good Samaritans saved the day.
“You got loving citizens willing to band together to stop this,” he said.