- Ray’s Candy Shop in the East Village was the site of a vicious crime when the 90-year-old owner, Ray Alvarez, was brutally beaten and nearly robbed.
- Two suspects, Luis Peroza, 39, and Gerald Barth, 55, were arrested concerning the incident and other crimes in the area.
- Despite suffering severe injuries, including a dislocated jaw and fractures to his face, Ray remains determined and upset about the lack of police presence in the neighborhood.
Two men were arrested following the brutal beating and attempted robbery of an elderly owner of Ray’s Candy Shop in the East Village, authorities said Saturday.
Identified as Luis Peroza, 39, and Gerald Barth, 55, they were captured after the beating of 90-year-old Ray Alvarez, whose injuries were so severe at the time that he must now eat through a straw, he told the New York Post.
Police believe Barth and Peroza lost their heads in the neighborhood and during their crimes, including at Alvarez’s Avenue A store, sources said.
Barth, who has had run-ins with the law, was arrested Wednesday in connection with the attempted robbery of Alvarez, along with the robbery in another crime.
Peroza was arrested and charged with assault on Friday, according to the NYPD, hours before he was taken from the 9th Precinct police station on East 5th Street.
The man was wearing a black cap, dark blue jacket, and black pants with red stripes, and with his hands cuffed behind his back, he stared straight ahead while ignoring reporters’ questions.
The criminals allegedly approached a person, 33, on Avenue C after 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday and hit the victim on the head after he resisted being robbed, sources said. Likewise, the suspects left empty-handed.
Then, at 6:20 p.m., Barth apparently struck a 51-year-old man in the head on Avenue B with an unidentified object, likely a rock in a sock, after he refused to give him a cigarette, according to sources. The subject fled the scene with the victim’s cell phone.
According to sources, Barth pointed the finger at Peroza as the ringleader of the reported incidents.
Alvarez was randomly attacked around 3:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, an unknown man asked him if he wanted to buy a package he was carrying.
When the elderly man asked what was inside the package, the criminal handed it to the other subject and threatened to kill him, police stated.
“They had soda. They wanted to sell me. I said no. One hit my head and chest. With one hand [the soda] to the other guy, ‘Hold this, I’m going to kill this guy,'” Alvarez recalled Thursday, adding, “I couldn’t believe it.”
Alvarez suffered fractures to his face, his jaw was dislocated during the beating, and he only ate through a straw. On the other hand, he said he was very upset that the beating would not have happened if more police officers had been patrolling the neighborhood.
The story of Ray Alvarez
Born Asghar Ghahraman, Ray Alvarez immigrated to the U.S. from the Middle East in the early ’70s. This was a few years before the Iranian Revolution that overthrew the reigning Pahlavi government. His journey to America began as a busboy in Manhattan, finally saving enough money to buy his dream confectionery shop in 1974. New York was struggling financially, but that did not deter Alvarez, who spent $30,000 to buy the space and opened for business that same year.
Alvarez’s Avenue A shop was a devoted fixture for nearly half a century. It has attracted an eclectic clientele, from celebrities like Madonna to Kim Kardashian, and serves as a testament to New York’s rich history of soda shops. Ray remained steadfast in his commitment to the store and refused to raise prices for his loyal customers, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
On his 90th birthday last month, New Yorkers rallied to organize a fundraiser for Ray to keep him in business on his terms. The fundraiser, dubbed “Ray’s 90th B-day Celebration,” has already surpassed its goal of $90,000 and has raised more than $58,000. This outpouring of support is a true testament to the profound impact that Ray and his store have had on the community of the East Village.