PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The victim of a brazen attack in Old City is sharing his story. Police are searching for a group of teenagers wanted in the assault. The victim has a message not for his attackers, but for city leaders.
Rizzo Mertz says he doesn’t believe he was targeted due to his sexual orientation, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But this is actually the second time he’s been attacked in Philly, and he says something needs to be done to address the violence.READ MORE: Cherry Hill School District Psychologist Francesca Aldrich Helping Inspire, Connect Students Through Virtual Black History Month Book Club
It started out as a day full of good company and fun, celebrating Pride in Philadelphia. But for Mertz, that excitement ended in distress after he was ambushed by a group of teens early Monday morning.
Mertz says the group of teens was “just roughhousing amongst each other. Nothing threatening, nothing that would make me pause and think this was any type of trouble ahead.”
But trouble was ahead for Mertz at 4th and Chestnut Streets.
“His fist connected right into the side of my head,” Mertz said. “One of the males decided to sucker punch me on the left side of my head.”
And that’s when the other young men joined in on the attack.
“While I was on the ground, they tried to wrestle my backpack off of me, which actually helped me get back up,” Mertz said.
After a brief struggle, Mertz was able to get away with his backpack. Now, police are searching for the teens who Mertz says are responsible for the attack.READ MORE: Mr. Potato Head Drops 'Mister' From Brand Name To Be More Gender Neutral
“The only reason why I wrestled for my bookbag, because it was Pride Day, and my Pride flag was in that backpack,” Mertz said.
Mertz says Dante Austin is the reason why he fought for his flag.
“Unfortunately, he took his own life. He was the first out deputy sheriff,” Mertz said of Austin.
As police continue to search for the teens responsible, Mertz hopes something can be done to curb the violence.
“We have to find a better way. There’s got to be a better way and our leaders have to help us, help them, find that way,” he said.
Mertz was in the hospital for 10 hours. His jaw was fractured, and his forehead needed to be stitched.MORE NEWS: Radnor School District Moves To Phase 1 Of COVID Plan, Full School Days For Kindergarten-5th Graders Begin Monday
If you know who is responsible for this attempted robbery, give police a call.