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January 06, 2017

Police describe men in attack on soldier after Mummers Parade

Police seeking video of incident

Police Investigations
01022017_Austin_Freni_FB Austin Freni/Facebook

Austin Freni, left, a South Jersey native in the U.S. Army, was beaten by a mob after Sunday's Mummer's Parade, his mother, Lori Freni, told Fox29.

Philadelphia police continue to search for video surveillance that shows an alleged attack against an active U.S. Army serviceman after the Mummers Parade on Sunday night.

Police provided an update on their investigation on Friday morning, detailing the alleged attack and providing descriptions of the alleged perpetrators. But their search has not yielded any video footage depicting the incident.

Austin Freni, 19, of Atco, New Jersey, and his mother, Lori Freni, told police they were attacked by 12 young men as they left the parade festivities near Third Street and Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia late Sunday night. Austin Freni's girlfriend also told police she was assaulted.

Freni was using his cell phone and attempting to secure a hotel room as his group walked along the 400 block of Oregon Avenue, police said. During the conversation, Freni mentioned he was in the Army as a group of young men walked by. 

One of the men made a derogatory comment about the Army, in general, police said. As Freni turned to respond, his mother responded, leading to an "angry" verbal exchange.

When Austin Freni confronted the man about his comments, the man allegedly punched him in the face, knocking Freni to the ground. Freni's mother and girlfriend told police that the other men then assaulted them before walking away.

Police released limited descriptions of the attackers. They described the suspect who punched Freni as a white man between the ages of 18 to 20. The group of attackers also included 10 white men and one black man, all ages 18 to 20.

No further descriptive characteristics were provided. In an interview Thursday with Fox 29, Lori Freni described the alleged attackers as wearing "nothing descriptive," saying their clothing ranged from "jeans to boots to vests."

Austin Freni, who was wearing an Army jacket during the alleged attack, suffered a broken jaw and taken for treatment to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Center City. He is reportedly recovering at his South Jersey home.

Lori Freni, 39, of the Atco section of Waterford Township, Camden County, and Freni's girlfriend, 18, of Medford, Burlington County, did not seek any medical attention, police said. Austin Freni's younger brother told Fox 29 that he also was assaulted, but police did not list him among the complainants.

A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $11,000 for the family.

The Freni family has declined interview requests from PhillyVoice, saying they are speaking exclusively to Fox 29. The family told the station that they observed at least one person filming the incident.

In December, Fox 29 reported that a good Samaritan was paying for Austin Freni to return home for the holidays, because his family had hit hard times. A graduate of Hammonton High School, Freni was due to return to Fort Benning, Georgia after the holidays. He reportedly was preparing for a Middle East deployment.