"I thought to myself, this guy is crazy," said the victim, named Armando, who spoke to KABC-TV about his encounter with the man on a train.
"And he told me, 'Hey I'm gonna be your little buddy today. Your friend for the ride,'" said Armando. "He asked me if I had any money in my pocket and I said no. He asked me are you lying. And I told him why would I lie, I'm scared for my life right now."
That's when he asked for Armando's iPhone.
"Once I took it out he told me to take out the password, take out the iCloud so I guess they wouldn't track it," the boy said. "And I asked can I go now and he said no."
With other passengers just a few steps away, the man held Armando against his will for several stops until Fordham Road, when he snatched the phone and ran.
Armando shouted for help. The man is seen on video stumbling as he ran out of the station with a random witness running after him, but he got away.
Thursday morning NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea posted the video on Twitter:
Who'd rob an 11-year-old kid? This guy! He must have forgotten that we—the NYPD partnered with a city 8.5 million strong—will not tolerate this kind of behavior. Help us get justice for one of our city’s young people. If you know who this guy is, call CRIMESTOPPERS 800-577-TIPS pic.twitter.com/j293Ndz5QT— Chief Dermot F. Shea (@NYPDDetectives) October 11, 2018
"I'm sad, because this world is dangerous, full of violence," said Armando's mom Silvia, through a translator. "I never thought this would happen to my son. I never believed this would happen to my son."
Armando wasn't hurt. But for a few minutes on that D train he was paralyzed with fear. Other passengers were all around him, but not one of them knew he was being terrorized before their eyes.
"There was a guy in front of me and I tried to make signals with my face but he just looked at me and looked away and closed his eyes," said Armando. "And I thought to myself people are bad but my mom told me people aren't bad, they just don't want to get into any problems and I guess I need to accept that."
He was heading home to Manhattan from the charter school he attends in the Bronx but doesn't want to go on the train alone anymore, so his mom is accompanying him on his commute for now.