Crime in New York forced Mama Bear and her family to move to a “quieter” environment in South Carolina.
The crimes at the Big Apple were too much for this mom.
The heroic Bronx mother who hit the front page of The Post as “Mama Bear” – when she furiously fought off a scumbag who hit her 4-year-old son in Times Square – has fled town with her three cubs.
On January 27, nearly a year after the horrific February 17 attack on her son Ángel, Rafaela Rivera and her husband Federico loaded Ángel, now 5, Carmen, 18, and Federico Jr., 15, into their red Toyota Scion. and headed south to the “quieter” neighborhoods of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“It’s a relief. Everyone is evil in New York, the atmosphere. Everyone needs to be on their toes,” Rivera, 43, said this week from her new digs on the seafront. “It was a blow, and every day, waking up, hearing about shootings, murders, it became too much.
“I wouldn’t even turn on the news. My 15-year-old daughter was worried about the trip,” she added.
The family initially chose fight over flight.
“Right after Thanksgiving, we decided to give the city until the end of the year,” Rivera said. “But the crimes got worse, and every morning you heard about stabbings, murders. robberies. Like this. At the end of the year, we decided to start a new journey. we were on vacation [in Myrtle Beach] in June and we had a lot of fun.”
A week after trading the Bronx for the sunbelt, Rivera said her family is “making new friends and enjoying great southern food, cookies, gravy and sweet tea.”
“I’m happy,” Angel, who now goes to a local kindergarten, said through his mom, adding that he “loves to play on the beach and in the sand and make new friends.”
Rivera remembered the attack vividly. She, Angel, and Carmen took an Uber to Manhattan, avoiding the subway, for a photo shoot for Angel, an aspiring model.
After filming, they were enjoying a mild 59-degree day at the crossroads of worlds when Carmen spotted a man acting strangely.
“My daughter was thinking to herself that she would keep an eye on the guy, but I wish she would tell me to put the baby between me and Carmen,” Rivera said in hindsight, adding, “If he hit anyone, that would be me.”
The frustrated man waved his hand, punching the little Angel in the face, causing him to fall to the pavement, authorities said.
“I heard my baby crying. My daughter pointed at the guy and then I told her, “Stay with the kid, and I left and told him, ‘You just hit my baby, why don’t you hit me or [pick on] someone your size!” Rivera said. “It was him and me and I was ready to choke him. When I was little, I did taekwondo. He wasn’t going to leave.”
Rivera, who was born in Texas and raised in Florida, grabbed the 5-foot-7, 150-pound suspect from behind, put him in a “big bear hug” and “fell him to the ground.” Mom said she held on with all her might until the cops arrived.
Police have charged 34-year-old Babakar Mbaye, a repeat offender with 51 arrests on the charge list, with assault and endangering a child’s welfare. Mbaye is currently being held on $30,000 bail at Rikers Island.
Rivera said she returned to Times Square with Angel and Carmen in October for the first time since the horrific incident, but it was “overwhelming.”
Mama Bear said her family is getting used to their new lair, a one-bedroom apartment on the beach. The plan is to use your savings to eventually buy a three-bedroom home.
“You are treated very well here,” Rivera said.
The former bagel factory worker has no regrets.
“It’s going crazy [in New York City] … This is starting to feel like California and Skid Row, she complained. “Everyone is coming here. I have friends who also want to move. They’re just tired of it.”
New York City is statistically “safer” than Myrtle Beach, but on US News & World’s 2022-2023 list of “best places to live” the southern city ranked 37th and the Big Apple 120th.
“I love New York. I’ll be back to visit. But I just won’t live there anymore,” Rivera said.
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