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EXCLUSIVE: 91-year-old bottle collector hugs mom of mentally ill teen who beat him with cane

INWOOD, Manhattan — Rosa Nazar never wanted to go public with her 19-year-old son's mental health issues.

Now, she feels compelled to.

And she's getting help from an unlikely ally, who's showing her deep compassion.

PIX11 was there, when Nazar approached 91-year-old Juan Llarens on Broadway Tuesday.

Just over a month ago, Nazar's troubled son, Saul Nunez, was captured on surveillance bashing the elderly bottle collector over the head repeatedly with a cane.

The incident happened just two blocks away from where Nazar found the man sitting on a bench Tuesday.

His red shopping cart, filled with bottles, was parked in front of him.

"I want to tell him I'm sorry," Nazar said in Spanish, as she spoke earnestly with the elderly man.

Within minutes, Llarens was hugging the worried mom, who's upset that her son was moved from the Bellevue Hospital psychiatric ward to a Riker's Island jail cell.

He's been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

"I told her she has nothing to be sorry for," the elderly man said. "As soon as I saw him coming at me, I knew that he was sick."

"I told him I have a lot of death threats on the Internet," the mom said. "He was one of the few who realized my son was sick."

Saul Nunez' mother spoke to PIX11 News to raise awareness of mental health issues she said aren't being dealt with adequately by the city, leading to a spate of violent crimes lately, including the assassination of Police Officer Miosotis Familia.

Familia was posthumously promoted to detective first grade, during her funeral service last week. The man who shot her, Alexander Bonds, tried to get psychiatric help several days before the crime but was released from Saint Barnabas Hospital.

Rosa Nazar said her son didn't understand why he was being held by police and didn't remember beating the old man with a cane.

She said she asked her son why he bought a cane and "He said, 'I see devils. With the cane, I feel protected from the devil. All the devils get sucked at the bottom of the cane.'"

"Sometimes, he would cry and tell me the devils would try to get him," Nazar told PIX11. The mom's eyes filled with tears, as she recalled feeling "very, very helpless. I hugged him and I said, 'No, the devil is not going to get you.'"

Rosa Nazar is now trying to raise funds for her son's medical and legal feels through a website: https://fundrazr.com/stories/3CetSd?ref=og 36hwL3