Police: 4 Men Beat, Rob Wheelchair-Bound Navy Veteran On Long Island
RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A disabled veteran in a wheelchair was speaking out Tuesday, about his experience being mugged just over a week ago while coming home from a church on the east end of Long Island.
As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, the four thieves took all the valuables that Gene Lyons, 60, had with him in the attack.
Lyons said being pulled over backwards on his electric scooter and beaten was frightening.
“I feel disrespected and I feel violated — definitely violated,” Lyons said.
The Navy veteran and former executive chef, who was disabled in a car crash some years ago, was in Riverhead Sunday night for a meeting at the local Methodist church.
He was heading home when he was attacked from behind around 10:30 p.m. on June 1 near the Long Island Rail Road tracks on Maple Avenue, police said.
“As soon as I got over the tracks, these four youngsters pulled me over on my scooter and then just started pummeling me with some kind of sticks or clubs — I’m not sure exactly,” Lyons said.
Lyons was knocked right out of his wheelchair, WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported.
While he couldn’t see the attacks well in the dark, Lyons said the assailants were between 19 and 23.
“I landed on my back… and I was looking up, and I could only see them from upside down,” Lyons said.
Lyons, who is on a fixed income, said they robbed him of all he had – which included cash and prescription medication.
“Eighty-four dollars and a couple of pills that I had – that was about it. It was basically what I had left,” he said.
Lyons said he was able to get himself back onto the scooter, and home, but didn’t report the incident to police until the following day. He also went to a hospital for treatment.
“They damaged my leg; they damaged my wrist, my chest,” he said.
And the self-sufficient man said he now has reason to be cautious as he travels the streets he thought were safe.
Police said because he is sometimes out on his own late at night, Lyons makes easy prey. Thus, police plan to provide him with a special cellphone to call 911.
Police have no surveillance video and very sketchy descriptions of the young men they hope to find.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest in the attack on Lyons.
Anyone with any information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 220-TIPS or contact the Riverhead Police Detective Division at 727-4500 Ext. 327.
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