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96-year-old awaits chance to deck mugger

A heartless man who mugged a 96-year-old Woodsider got away with the cash, but the scrappy victim says he is not unafraid of the culprit and is ready to fight back.

“If I meet him out in the street, I’ll fight him,” Alfonso Scannapieco said, holding out his arms, his wrinkled hands curled into two fists. “I know I’m gonna lose, but at this point I don’t care.”

Scannapieco, a former Manhattan building superintendent, has lived at his Woodside apartment complex at 54th Street near 31st Avenue with his son Paul, 65, for nine years. His wife, Jean, died 10 months ago at age 89 and he points out her picture, surrounded by his son’s sizable collection of movie memorabilia, to visitors.

“She was a wonderful woman, took three-quarters of my life with her,” Scannapieco said.

He said he was robbed in his building Feb. 15, which had never happened to either him or anyone else in his building. Around 3:30 p.m., Scannapieco was walking home after buying newspapers, water and soda. When he arrived at his apartment complex carrying his purchases, a man whom he had never seen before opened the door for him.

“The first thing he says was ‘Funeral,’” Scannapieco said, which made him think the man wanted a donation for a funeral.

The two of them entered the elevator together. When they reached Scannapieco’s floor and got out of the elevator, the man said the word “funeral” again. When Scannapieco took out the more than $90 he had in his pocket, expecting to be able to take $5 or $10 to give to the man for a donation, the man grabbed onto his hand. More out of instinct than a desire to keep the money, Scannapieco struggled against the man.

“He’s pushing and I’m pulling,” Scannapieco said.

Eventually, the man pulled all $90 away and Scannapieco fell backward onto the floor. Although he was not hurt, he screamed and a next door neighbor came out to help him while the mugger ran down the stairs, Scannapieco said.

Police were still looking for the man as of press time Tuesday evening.

Neighbors gave Scannapieco $100 for the money he lost, but Scannapieco, who said he was never worried about the money, believes he has a score to settle.

Scannapieco said he does not know if the man was waiting for someone else or for him, but suspects he was targeted because of his age. He said he wants to fight the perpetrator, even though he will lose, to send a message that the elderly cannot be pushed around.

“Some guys, they won’t take it,” Scannapieco said.

Police describe the mugger as a black man about 40 to 50 years old, standing 5 feet 4 inches to 5 feet 5 inches in height. When last seen he was wearing a black parka jacket, black knitted ski cap, black gloves and black pants, police said. Anyone with information on the crime should call Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS, go to nypdcrimestoppers.com or text 274637 and enter TIP577, police said.

“It’s a matter of time before they’re going to get him,” Scannapieco said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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