PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - A soldier's mom is speaking out after a brutal attack on her son. The serviceman became a target for a violent group after the Mummers parade. He is now in the hospital with a long recovery ahead of him.
"He's such a good kid. He did not deserve this."
Lori Freni was supposed to see her 19-year-old Army serviceman son Austin head back to base after the holidays.
"Austin's in rough shape. He's pretty banged up," she told FOX 29.
But now, he lays in Jefferson University Hospital with severe facial injuries after being jumped while leaving the Mummers Parade festivities last night at 3rd and Oregon in South Philly.
"Group of 10-15 guys walked by me (making) derogatory comments towards Austin's Army jacket," she explained.
Then she says one of the young men struck Austin before others piled on.
"Me and his girlfriend tried pulling them off and they hit us . We got hit in the face. She got thrown in the street," his mom explained "He's got to get plates put in his jaw and his mouth will be wired shut for the next eight weeks."
Austin came home from Fort Benning, Georgia in a pre-Christmas surprise arranged by a stranger after Lori struggled to raise money for the airfare. Times have been tough since Austin's dad died of brain cancer and she lost work due to disability.
And now this.
"We're lost. Just complete disbelief," Lori said.
Austin was supposed to be deployed to the Middle East in less than two months.
The South Detective Division of the Philadelphia Police Department confirms they are handling the investigation.