What started as a normal conversation between the 31-year-old man and the teens ended with five of the boys beating the man at once, police said.
"Some of the kids we arrested this time we've had numerous times," Ruskowski said. "They're not even worth the air they're breathing."
The victim suffered two fractured eye sockets, a collapsed lung and a puncture wound to his back, among other injuries. He was in serious condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
After they beat him unconscious, the kids ran. Other residents concerned about the smoke went to check on the source. They found the victim and carried him out, Ruskowski said. Several of the kids who were in the group but did not participate in the assault came back and gave information to responding police officers.
Five teens have been charged as juveniles with aggravated assault and related offenses, but Ruskowski said he'd like to see them charged as adults with attempted homicide.
"The violence is just unbelievable," he said. "I'm trying to calm the residents in the area who think it's time for some payback."
Contact Stephanie Farr at 215-854-4225 or email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @FarFarrAway. Read her blog, philly.com/DailyDelco