Injured soldier goes home amid questions over alleged assault
PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - An injured soldier is home recovering, as the investigation into who he says attacked him goes nowhere.
Private Austin Freni says he and his family were jumped on New Year's Day.
Since then thousands of dollars have been raised to help the family, and so have many questions about what really happened that night.
"The hardest part is knowing that I couldn't protect my family when they needed it the most," Lori Freni read.
Lori read a statement written by her son, 19-year-old Army Private Austin, home from the hospital with his jaw wired shut.
He says he and his family were jumped not long after leaving the mummers parade festivities Sunday night, and he now shares his feelings with a pen and paper.
"So I ask anyone can please step up who might have seen something or know something," Lori continued to read.
MORE: Family: Soldier attacked after Mummers Parade
The Freni's say Austin was on the phone getting a hotel room and mentioned that he was in the Army when a group of men overheard that and mocked him for it.
Police tell FOX 29 they are looking into the assault, but have yet to find any video or witnesses.
Lori says when the assault happened Austin happened to be wearing his now damaged Army jacket.
"He said the biggest thing that I care about is that they are found. I am infantry and I can bounce back. It is what we do," Austin's statement added.
Austin's girlfriend Kelsey says she too was hurt and is talking publicly for the first time.
"I got hit in the face a couple times. I got picked up and thrown in the middle of the street," Kelsey explained.
Kelsey understands some may be skeptical about her lack of bruising.
"Not everyone gets bruises from being hit. I don't bruise easily. I mean I can defend myself a decent amount to not be like straight hit in the face," she added.
A GoFundMe page was created to raise money for Austin's medical expenses following the attack, and that too is raising eyebrows. However, the family says it was created by a supporter of theirs, and that they did not ask for it.
"If you want to be a skeptic, that's fine. We're not here to worry about those types of people. We are here to get back at you know, who did this to my son," Lori said.
FOX 29 asked Austin's mom for a description of the attackers, believed to be several young men, between 18 and 20 years old.
"It goes from jeans to boots to vests. There was nothing like descriptive," Lori added, "The only thing that we do have that was able to be grabbed, we have a black, very worn black Tommy Hilfiger hat."
READ MORE: Stranger's kindness brings soldier home for the holidays
Austin's 15-year-old brother Joey says the meddlers got him too after he hit one of them for pushing his mom.
"They picked me up by the neck and threw me on the ground and started kicking me," Joey said.
Bottom line, the family says they want to heal, and need those responsible off the street.
"Somebody has to know something and just have someone come forward," Lori said.
Police tell us the descriptions of the attackers are quite vague.
Austin's mom maintains she saw someone videotape the attack, which happened right at 3rd and Oregon.
If you have seen that video, or know anything, police want to hear from you.