WEST VILLAGE — A 72-year-old man was punched in the face in an apparently random attack in the West Village Monday afternoon, police said.
The victim, identified by sources as Donald Lathrom, was knocked to the ground with a single hit as he walked past a man waiting in front of 99 Jane St., a doorman building in a residential part of the Village between Washington Street and West Street.
Lathrom, a dog walker who a friend said once drove a cab, lives nearby, sources said.
Melvin Smith, 63, said he has been Lathrom's neighbor for 17 years.
"Don's just a very, very nice guy, sweet hearted," Smith said. ''We're New York Giants fans, so we hang out together. We follow football. We talk about the games. He's one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.''
The male attacker immediately ran off as his victim, who was carrying a shopping bag, fell into a doorway at 5:29 p.m., surveillance video of the attack shows.
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Police said another man, who was waiting across the street at the time of the incident, ran off with him.
Lathrom was taken to an area hospital and was treated for bruises and cuts to his head and face, police said.
"It's just devastating," Smith said, adding that Lathrom has been in remission for about three years after battling lung cancer.
"It's plain devastating. Tears come to my eyes, it really hurts. That's my friend."
Police describe the suspects as in their early 20s.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).