Outnumbered by a gang of men armed with bottles, bats, pipes and a foot-long army knife, anti-crime activist Greg Bucceroni was not intimidated. He cautiously pulled out his cell phone and dialed 9-1-1.
The former part-time police officer has been assaulted frequently, saying he has been shot at and attacked with machetes.
Fortunately for Bucceroni, this time, the cops came around the corner as his assailants closed in on him, and he escaped serious injury.
Bucceroni was hospitalized Thursday night after being struck by a brick at about 6:35 p.m. The incident occurred at Mascher and Indiana streets in Kensington.
On his way to talk to a teenager about the kid's anger-management issues, Bucceroni said he passed what he called a known drug corner. Bucceroni was hoping to help the 13-year-old stay out of trouble, but instead ran into what he called a group of "urban terrorists" whose M.O. is violence and intimidation.
"Something must have happened before I got there and the drug dealers were pissed at the cops," said Bucceroni, 44, of Kensington. "I came walking past and they took their aggravation out on me because I support police."
Bucceroni said he called the police as more than a dozen men, many of them armed, approached him and started screaming in English and Spanish.
Police confirmed that one of the men threw a brick at Bucceroni's forehead. Bucceroni suffered a gash in his head and a welt the size of a tennis ball.
A few minutes later, a police car turned the corner a block away. The offenders dispersed in all directions, Bucceroni said.
Bucceroni was taken by Fire Rescue to Temple University Hospital, where he was treated in stable condition for head trauma. He received 10 stitches. After about two hours, Bucceroni went to the East Detective Division to give a statement.
Police said the attacker was described as a Hispanic male in his mid 20s, 5-feet-7, 140 pounds, with reddish-brown hair and beard, dirty jeans and a grayish-green T-shirt.
But facing danger is nothing new for Bucceroni.
"I've been stabbed and shot at," he said. "It could have been a lot worse."
Later Thursday night, Bucceroni returned to the crime scene with the East Detective Division. He said it was like a ghost town.
"There was nobody on the corner," Bucceroni said. "They cleaned house."
In 1994, Bucceroni left his officer post to focus on helping kids.
Bucceroni said the attack gives him motivation to go out there again.
"We're not going to quit," he said. "We're going to stay on top of this."
Police said they are patrolling the neighborhood more closely, which they said is known for drug users and dealers. No arrests have been made. *