A 26-year-old U.S. Marine veteran, who for the past 325 days has been running across America to raise awareness and support for veterans and their families, suffered a concussion along with a bloodied and bruised face after a stranger assaulted him in Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday.
According to former Marine Sergeant Brendan O’Toole, the unprovoked attack on a downtown street was precipitated by nothing more than a “simple hello and how are you doing.”
“I was walking down the street with everybody else when in the middle of passing by this young guy…well, he just rocked me,” O’Toole told Breitbart Sports. “And for no reason… the guy never said a word.
The timing–4:30 PM EDT–and location–North Market Street near the Delaware History Museum in busy downtown Wilmington–provided plenty of eyewitnesses to the attack. O’Toole described his attacker as an 18-22 year-old African American male, wearing baggy jeans and a grey hoodie. At this point, O’Toole says he has no plans to file a report with the local police.
UPDATE: Wilmington Police tweeted a photo of the suspect they had in custody on Wednesday evening:
— Wilmington Police (@WPDPIO) October 3, 2013
“I mean I had just passed an elementary school and watched all the kids line up for their buses and 20 yards later, I got hit,” O’Toole said.
After blindsiding O’Toole, the silent assailant immediately fled the scene on foot, leaving O’Toole semi-unconscious on the the concrete.
“From the time I was hit to when I landed on the street, I blacked out,” said O’Toole. “My brain just got rattled.”
O’Toole did not remain on the ground for long.
“I could not have been out for more than three-to-five seconds when like that, my Marine training just kicked-in.” And once back on his feet, O’Toole said he instantly began to process and prepare for his next move.
“I seriously thought round two was coming from someone and from somewhere else,” remarked O’Toole. “The attack did not make sense in those few split seconds and I wanted this time at least an opportunity to defend myself.”
Fortunately, the situation did not escalate. In describing the aftermath, however, O’Toole noted the scene remained tense.
“The people around were in shock and seemed concerned for their safety once I was back on my feet,” he said.
Regrettably, the incident marred what was supposed to be a celebration of yet another milestone: the end of Delaware, O’Toole’s thirteenth state.
After completing a four year enlistment in the Marines in June 2012, O’Toole founded The Run for Veterans (TRFV). Last November 11–Veterans Day–O’Toole left Oceanside, California for his 21 state, 3,600 mile cross country run motivated by an honorable cause: to raise support and funds for combat veterans and their families. To date, TRFV has raised over $170,000 and according to O’Toole, after a fundraiser this Friday night in his hometown of Alexandria, VA, it is possible TRFV may break the $200K mark.
While the assailant’s motives may never be known–or understood, O’Toole, nevertheless, has managed to add some humor to the incident to help offset the pain from the concussion induced headache: “I can safely rule out robbery. All I had on me was a pair of running shorts.”
Additional pictures from Wednesday’s incident may be found on The Run for Veterans Facebook page.
Photo courtesy of Joey Dwyer.