Man, 60, dies after beating in $1 Christmas Eve mugging

A still image taken from a surveillance video shows suspects the police want to speak to with regard to the mugging. PHOTO: AP

NEW YORK (AP) - A 60-year-old man who was kicked and punched while defending his partner during a US$1 mugging on Christmas Eve has died.

Juan Fresnada died on Friday afternoon (Dec 27) at the Bronx hospital where he was taken in critical condition after the mugging early on Tuesday, the New York Police Department said on Saturday.

Officers have released surveillance photos and videos in hopes of pinpointing suspects.

His partner, Byron Caceres, told the Daily News of New York that Fresnada suffered the fatal blows while trying to spare him and urging him to run to safety, which he did.

He "tried to defend me," Caceres, 29, told the newspaper on Wednesday. He said he had been unable to summon help because he does not have a cellphone. No contact information for him could immediately be found on Saturday.

Police said the two men were walking in the Morrisania neighbourhood of the Bronx around 1.30am when several muggers approached them and demanded their property.

When they refused, they were attacked.

Surveillance video clips released by police show a man grabbing another man's shirt and swinging him to the ground, then hitting him. Later clips show two other men joining the attacker, one of them grasping a trash can, as the beaten man starts to stand up.

It is unclear whether he is Fresnada or Caceres, who didn't need hospitalisation.

The muggers took US$1 (S$1.35) from the men and fled, police said.

Caceres, originally from Honduras, and the Cuban-born Fresnada met through a programme for poor gay men in 2015 and lived together in a building in Morrisania, according to the Daily News.

"He's very calm, and I'm the one who is stressed all the time," Caceres said on Wednesday as Fresnada lay in intensive care.

Caceres said the muggers did not say anything to indicate the attack was a hate crime.

A neighbour, Aletha Jacobs, told the Daily News that Fresnada was well known and liked in the area.

"He never bothered nobody," she said. "He was a beautiful guy."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.