A man pretending to be a cab driver who tried to sexually assault a woman in front of her three children was arrested yesterday. Yonkers resident Pedro Vargas, 48, has been charged with misdemeanor assault, two counts of felony assault and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Part of his alleged attack was caught on security camera behind a Queens homeless shelter:

Vargas allegedly pretended to be a cab driver when he picked up an unidentified woman and her three young children on 207th Street in Manhattan at approximately 2:45 a.m. on Sunday morning. He then drove the woman and children, ages 1, 3, and 5, to the defunct Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst, which has been the target of ugly, xenophobic protests since its conversion to a homeless shelter earlier this year.

082914vargas.jpgAccording to police, the suspect drove his car behind the shelter and attempted to rape the woman. She managed to break free and, after a violent struggle, escape with her children.

"While the victim was attempting to get out of the auto, the suspect elbowed the 5-year-old in the head and forcibly removed the 3-year-old from the auto before fleeing the scene," the NYPD said in a statement. The children were taken to Elmhurst Hospital with minor injuries.

“She was panicking,” neighbor Aaron Ling tells CBS 2. “She kept screaming, ‘police, police!’ I ran over here because I thought someone was dying or something.” Homeless shelter reps also tell CBS 2 they are offering assistance to the woman and her children.

In 1994, Vargas was reportedly sentenced to 15 years to life on kidnapping and robbery charges. He was released on parole in 2012.