MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Manatee County man who was on a walk with his 10-year-old niece suffered “serious injuries” after a group of teenage kids beat him until he was unconscious, according to the Holmes Beach Police Department.

Evan Purcell, 40, of Holmes Beach, was walking his dog at Anna Maria Elementary School Wednesday alongside his niece when they came across a group of teenagers drinking and possibly vandalizing the school. According to a news release, Purcell yelled at the teens to stop and move along.

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Police claimed the group became aggressive and approached Purcell, who pulled out a pocket knife in fear for his safety.

Several teens knocked Purcell to the ground as they struck him in the head with a wooden object and possibly a skateboard, the release added. Purcell was also punched and kicked repeatedly in the face and head while he was on the ground until he was knocked unconscious.

“Nothing can speak to how horrific this is,” said Police Chief William Tokajer.

Purcell’s family tells 8 On Your Side the 40-year-old is disabled and was walking his service dog with his niece. He suffered severe head injuries and has already undergone surgery. Out of fear for their safety, they declined an on camera interview but wants the public to know Purcell would go out of his way to help anyone who needed it.

“The whole family is local and they have said that Evan wouldn’t have hurt a fly. He is always helping people and we have nothing that shows us any different,” said Chief Tokajer.

Police said the teens left the school in a white Kia Sportage. Several suspects were identified, but police said an investigation is still ongoing.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact Detective Fleischer at fleischerj@holmesbeach.org
or 941-708-5800 ext. 270. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can call Manatee County Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS and be eligible for an award.