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Arrest made in theft of Bronx Army veteran’s service dog; puppy still missing

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KINGSBRIDGE, the Bronx –– Police arrested one of the two men who allegedly jumped an Army veteran and stole his service dog in the Bronx last month, cops said Thursday.

Brian Cohen was arrested in connection with the assault of Robert Cohen and theft of his dog, Mala on May 14. (NYPD)

Brian Cohen, identified as the victim’s wife’s ex-boyfriend, is in police custody after he turned himself with an attorney into the 52nd Precinct Thursday afternoon, police said. He and another man are wanted in the assault of Robert Lebron and theft of his 8-month-old puppy Mala, who was last seen on May 14.

Cohen, who faces robbery, assault and criminal procession of stolen property charges, allegedly told police Thursday he is unaware of Mala’s whereabouts.

Lebron and Mala were returning to his Bronx building after a trip to a nearby park on Mother’s Day morning when Cohen and another unidentified man ran up to the pair as they were about to enter the apartment and attacked Lebron.

Surveillance video shows Cohen allegedly punching Lebron in the head, causing him to stumble down the stairs and run away.  A second man grabbed Mala’s leash and fled with her and Cohen toward Valentine Avenue toward East 196th Street, according to cops.

PIX11 exclusively interviewed Lebron, who was devastated days after the attack.

"What she gives me I can't get from someone else: not a therapist or a family member or my friend," he said about his service dog. "It's unconditional love."

Lebron served as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Mala signified a new chapter in his life. She brought joy to his life as he struggled with an unimaginable pain PTSD.

"[If] you see something, say something - because I need her and she needs me."

PIX11 viewers took notice of Lebron's ordeal. Darran Brown saw the story and offered $1,000 reward for Mala's safe return.

The act of kindness brought tears to his eyes.

"It shows compassion and that's what I need right now. I need help getting my dog back. That's all I need."

Submit tips to police by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visiting http://www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or texting 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Spanish-speaking callers are asked to dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).