Police expect arrests soon in severe Olney beating

Still from a surveillance video of the men whom police believe beat a Vietnam vet.
Still from a surveillance video of the men whom police believe beat a Vietnam vet.
Posted: January 19, 2012

Police questioned several teenagers Thursday in connection with a brutal, random beating of a 64-year-old war veteran, and sources said they expected arrests to be made soon.

Several juveniles contacted police after seeing news reports of the Tuesday-evening assault in Olney, which left the victim hospitalized with a fractured skull and jaw, as well as other serious injuries to his face, head, and a hand.

The role of the juveniles being questioned was unclear, Philadelphia Officer Tanya Little said. But police sources said officers had identified several of the teenagers involved.

The victim, Edward Schaefer, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, was jumped by a group of six teens about 6 p.m. Tuesday near his Olney home, apparently "just for sport," police said.

Schaefer, who was being treated at Albert Einstein Medical Center, was walking in the 5000 block of North Fifth Street on his way to a bus stop to meet his wife when the assailants pounced.

Surveillance video captured the teens walking a short distance behind Schaefer when they made a spur-of-the-moment decision to strike, said Philadelphia Police Lt. George McClay of the Northwest Detective Division.

"It's not even planned. They're walking down the street, laughing," McClay said. "One kid breaks off from the pack, beats him down, and the rest of them join in."

The assault was so severe it could have proved fatal, and police intend to charge the attackers with attempted murder, McClay said.

"Someone knows these kids," McClay said Thursday morning at a news conference in Olney. "They're from the neighborhood. We know they are. A teacher out there has seen them at school. We're looking for one or two names . . .. This behavior can't be let go. These animals have to be put away."

The assault prompted Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 to post a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the culprits.

The attackers were described as 16 to 18 years old, black and Hispanic. One was wearing an orange hooded sweatshirt and jeans.

Schaefer was shot in an eye in Vietnam, McClay said. Since then, he has worked in veterans' support services, helping others find jobs.

He has no recollection of the attack, McClay said.

"Last thing he knows, he's walking to the bus," he said.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 215-686-3477.

Contact staff writer Allison Steele at 215-854-2641 or asteele@phillynews.com.

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