NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - A man known as the "Free Hugs" guy in Times Square attacked a tourist from Canada, according to the police. Jermaine Himmelstein, 24, was walked out of the police precinct Thursday evening in handcuffs. He told reporters that he "was aggressively asking for tips."
At about noon Thursday, a 22-year-old tourist from Ottawa spotted Himmelstein who had a sign that read "Free Hugs" in Times Square on Broadway near West 46th Street. Police said that he embraced her and took a photo with her, but he demanded a $5 tip. When she refused to pay him, he punched her in the face.
The ordeal happened where most of the Times Square costumed characters gather.
The NYPD told Fox 5 News that Mr. "Free Hugs" has a long list of priors: 14 arrests before this one, most of them for assaulting women.
The costume characters say Himmelstein is not one of them. Lady Liberty accused him of being out of control and crazy.
In the meantime, tourists we spoke to are shocked by the news. Police charged Himmelstein with robbery and fraudulent accosting.
With the AP