A group of volunteers known as the "Guardian Angels" made headlines again this week after a video was posted to YouTube on Sunday, showing its members defending a New York City Footlocker from rioters and looters.
The group's founder Curtis Sliwa, 66, had set up with his men outside the front of the store near Broadway and Washington Place around 10 p.m. last Tuesday, The New York Post reported.
The video showed the Angels, in their signature jackets and hats, blocking off the entrance and pushing would-be looters away from the door.
It also shows one of the rioters smashing what appears to be a cane over a Guardian Angel's head. In addition, a bicycle and bags of garbage were thrown at the group by those who passed by.
Sliwa called the confrontation a victory, however, a blow to the head reportedly cost Guardian Angel Aram Sabet the vision in his left eye, after he received a broken nose, broken left sinus, broken eye socket near his left temple and 48 stitches. He also had two chipped teeth and two "wiggly molars."
Sabet spoke with Fox News about the ordeal that left him with a life-changing injury on Tuesday evening.
"The core group of looters just didn’t want to give up especially since we were pushing them off," he began. "They kept making a point in saying that they want to get what was rightfully theirs and they were getting into the store no matter what.
"I made a point of telling them that we were here to help them, and the community, but things started getting violent. They started throwing garbage and bum-rushing us and hitting us," Sabet continued. "At one point someone shot a flare gun at us that just missed. I picked it up and used it the same way a lion tamer would use a flaming stick to ward off a pack of lions. After about a minute or two of that, someone smacked me across the face with what I believe was a 2 x 4. Automatically, both eyes went black."
He added, "I didn’t pass out but I instantly felt like my eye was punctured, blood was running down my face, out of my mouth and nose. Fortunately, there was a little alcove or building entrance that I turned to. so I could collect myself and cover my face. I grabbed a bandana in my pocket and put it to my face. I clearly remember how soaking wet it got, very quickly. I could hear the fighting and screaming and heard people interrupting the looters and saving us."
Sabet said doctors claim he needs eye surgery in the next few weeks but he is still seeking second opinions. He also said surgery for his nose, eye, and face would have to be postponed by six months while he waits for the swelling to go down.
Sliwa spoke with Fox News last week about the incident and said his group has mostly been focusing its attention on stopping hate crimes against members of the Asian community, given the tension from the coronavirus outbreak.
"Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we have mostly been in Chinatown to stop any hate crimes against Asians," he told Fox News. "But on Tuesday night, we were in SoHo working our way down Broadway when we heard about looters trying to get into a Footlocker, and we immediately ran to that location."
After hours of defending the store, things finally escalated shortly before 11 p.m. when a group of looters returned in an attempt to finish the job, according to Sliwa.
"They started swinging at us," he explained, "But we were not going to let them get inside; we were slamming and jamming quite a few of them. They were throwing glass bottles filled with liquids, as well as bricks and rocks. It was quite the battle."
Sliwa added, "We train for these kinds of things; we won't fold. We are defiant. We want to make a difference in these neighborhoods."
Fox News' Hollie McKay contributed to this report