DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A homeless Army veteran was recovering in a hospital Friday after two 10-year-old boys and a teenager were accused of attacking him on a street and smashing a concrete block into his face.
The three boys were in custody on aggravated battery allegations and face a hearing next week to determine if they should remain in juvenile detention.
At their first court appearance, the two younger boys were escorted from jail in oversized white jumpsuits, their hands chained in front of them and their legs in shackles.
"They are dangerous," the 57-year-old victim, John D'Amico, told The Associated Press from his hospital bed. "The street doesn't need them. They need to be somewhere."
State prosecutors have not decided which formal charges to pursue or whether any of the boys will be charged as adults, said Linda Pruitt, a spokeswoman for State Attorney John Tanner.
D'Amico, who is 6-foot-2 and weighs 220 pounds, said he was walking with a friend through a Daytona Beach neighborhood just before 9 p.m. Tuesday when the trio on bicycles started throwing sand and small rocks at them.
Then they got off their bikes and started throwing larger rocks, he said.
D'Amico said he fell into a wall after the 17-year-old punched him in the face, breaking the brick wall. One of the 10-year-olds then slammed a piece of the broken wall onto his face, he said.
"They were big kids for their age," D'Amico told the AP. "The little kid was taunting me. The big kid came over and just slugged me. If they just would have let me walk on, I would have walked on."
D'Amico, a New York native and day laborer, said he slid into homelessness after injuring his knee two years ago. Having no health insurance, he lost his car and a landscaping business. He could no longer make money as a baseball umpire because he couldn't run. Everything he owns now fits into a backpack, which he was wearing the night of the attack.
"It's been rough. I'm so old. I'm really tired of it," he said.
D'Amico has had reconstructive surgery on his face since the attack. He said he didn't think he was targeted simply for being homeless.
"I don't look that homeless. I'm not really dirty, slobby homeless," he said. "I'm familiar in the neighborhood. I don't know these kids, never seen them before."
Police didn't return a phone message Friday seeking comment.
Attorney Jonathan Glugover, who represents one of the younger boys, declined comment Friday. An assistant for lawyer Tonya Cromartie, who represents the other 10-year-old, said she couldn't comment because she had just been assigned to the case.
Public defender Jim Purdy, who represents the teen, said he won't know until next week if his client will be charged as an adult.
The boys were known in the neighborhood for causing trouble, said Steve Smiley, who has lived there since 1985. "I avoided them. They were terrors," he said.
The case was the latest example of violence involving homeless people in Florida.
Four teenagers got lengthy prison sentences for beating a homeless man to death in 2005 near Daytona Beach. Three other teenagers face possible life sentences if convicted of beating a homeless man to death with a baseball bat in Fort Lauderdale in a 2006 attack caught on surveillance video.