Bushwick artist Ian Sklarsky says that he was waiting for the Q train at 42nd Street shortly after midnight on Tuesday, when a man walked up and punched him in the face with a partially-unwrapped Snickers bar, shoving the candy into his mouth.
The assailant walked away, but turned back when Sklarsky called out in surprise. A scuffle ensued, and Sklarsky says he was punched five more times.
"It was so out of the blue," Sklarsky told us yesterday, recovering from what amounted to a black left eye, bruised nose, and two split lips. "All of a sudden he shoved it into my face, and in my mouth. It was kind of a face punch of sorts, but with a candy bar."
Sklarsky, who specializes in pen-and-watercolor "blind contour" drawing—a method where the artist draws lines without looking at the paper—was headed home to Bushwick when the incident occurred. He had just seen a short Alan Cumming film at the Living Room in the W Hotel in Times Square. "I had a great night," he recalled. "I saw Bernadette Peters. It was wonderful."
Sklarsky says that there were about a dozen people on the train platform who witnessed the incident, and didn't intervene.
"I did a lot of grabbing at him, trying to hold him down," he added. Sklarsky denied throwing any return punches, but said that he held the candy-puncher down in an effort to "keep him there so security or police got there, but no one did." He continued to scuffle with the man up an adjacent set of stairs. At the top, Sklarsky said, "he punched me a few more times" before running away.
Sklarsky learned after the fact that a witness had called 911.
According to the NYPD, Eliexer Reyes, 35, was arrested in conjunction with the attack, at about 12:40 a.m. Reyes, who police say resides at 450 Lexington Avenue in Bed-Stuy, has since been charged with assault to cause injury and disorderly conduct. Sklarsky said he has no connection to Reyes.
Sklarsky, who has lived in New York City since 2010, says he is moving to South Africa in a few months. "I was like, fuck," he said. "My whole New York experience has been great. You hear stories about what happens in the city, but now it's a story that's happened to me."
UPDATE: The NYPD confirmed that Reyes, who is currently incarcerated with $500 bail, has been arrested for punching individuals in the past. In October of 2009 Reyes punched an individual in the face at 300 Skillman Avenue in East Williamsburg. And in 2012, he was arrested for punching an acquaintance in the face at 609 West 174th Street.
Reyes also violated an order of protection against an elderly person in January of 2013, and in March of that year he was arrested for smashing the back windshield of a Mitsubishi Galant with his fist and a metal lock. When officers arrested him, they found an iPhone 4 in his possession that had been stolen earlier that day.