UPDATED: Youth charged with attempted murder
EDWARD SCHAEFER was walking along 5th Street near Ashdale in Olney to meet his wife Tuesday night and woke up Wednesday morning in a hospital bed with a fractured face, a bruised knee and cuts on each of his hands.
Family members and cops had to fill him in on what happened in between.
The 64-year-old Army veteran, blinded in one eye by a bullet while serving in Vietnam, was attacked on the street by six teenagers about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, and is at Albert Einstein Medical Center, possibly facing reconstructive facial surgery.
"I never saw them," Schaefer told the Daily News last night in an exclusive interview inside his room on the fourth floor at Einstein. "All I can tell you is they did a number." Still, he said he holds no anger toward his attackers.
"I have very little animosity," Schaefer said, adding that despite the cruelty that fueled the attack, he wants to see the teens pay for their actions without serving time in prison.
"While they're in jail, guess who's paying for it? We are. Why should we?" Schaefer asked. "I have no animosity - now that I know what the hell happened."
Working on tips from neighbors and help from school district cops, police last night arrested a 15-year-old Olney boy in connection with the savage beating.
The District Attorney's Office said this afternoon that they have charged the youth with attempted murder, assault, recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats, and conspiracy.
The juvenile is being held at the Youth Services Center and is scheduled to be arraigned later today.
Police identified five others in the attack, and are working with the District Attorney's Office to draft arrest warrants, said Lt. George McClay, of the Northwest Detective Division.
Schaefer has two fractured orbitals, (eye sockets) and fractures to his jaw and skull, according to McClay.
From his hospital bed last night, Schaefer adjusted his glasses on the bridge of his bruised and badly cut nose, and said he was more confused than angry about the attack.
"I can't understand why it was done," he said, glancing down toward his blue gown and blue-plaid pajama pants. "I don't know the guys."
Schaefer's neighbors wondered why the teens jumped him, but cops said the motive was robbery. The teens saw Schaefer talking on his cellphone while he walked on 5th Street, police said.
"Two of the kids went and beat him up," McClay said. "The whole group of six are not all defendants."
They approached him from behind and punched him in his face, police said. The first blow knocked him unconscious, and the teens kept beating him.
Schaefer has an artificial right eye because his was shot out in Vietnam in 1968. He said that could pose a challenge to doctors working to heal his facial fractures.
"It's a shame you go to serve your country and you can't even walk through your own neighborhood," McClay said.
"They have no conscience, no love - no heart," Michelle Harris, a neighbor of Schaefer's who lives on Sulis Street near 2nd, said of his attackers. "Every now and then it just shakes me. It don't make no sense."
Schaefer still had his wallet when he was admitted to the hospital, police said. Because of that, his wife of 27 years, Kathleen, was able to find him when she talked with hospital staff after multiple calls to his cellphone went unanswered.
The teens will face charges of attempted murder and robbery, among others, police said.
"They're animals. The poor guy was defenseless," McClay said at the Northwest Detective Division, Broad and Champlost. "This s--- has to stop."
The attack also enraged District Attorney Seth Williams.
"This was an horrific and senseless crime," Williams said in a statement, "and my office will not tolerate thugs like this endangering our city. My office is going to do everything we can to make sure everyone involved in this heinous attack is punished, which is why we have charged this defendant with Attempted Murder.
Williams added that authorities expect at least one more suspect will be charged, "very soon."
The attack marks the second time since December that an older man has been the victim of a random assault in Olney.
In mid-December, a 65-year-old man was beaten by two teens on 5th Street near Chelten Avenue. He was treated at a hospital and survived.