Man says he wrestled attackers for his backpack because it contained his Pride flag

Dan Wing
June 13, 2019 - 8:29 am
Video image of teenagers suspected of attacking 32-year-old Rizzo Mertz

Philadelphia Police Department

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia Police are looking for a group of teenagers behind the vicious beating of a man in Old City early Monday morning. 

Police say 32-year-old Rizzo Mertz had just wrapped up what was otherwise a great Pride Weekend. He was walking on Chestnut Street between 3rd and 4th streets a little after midnight when he spotted a group of about eight teenagers. 

Mertz told CBS 3 Eyewitness News that some of the kids in the group were messing around and pushing each other, but he didn't give them any thought. That's when one of those teens snuck up behind him and punched him in the head.

"It just connected right in the side of my head," he said.

Mertz says other teens in the group joined in, and he ended up on the ground while they tried to take his backpack. But he wasn't going to give up that bag.

"The only reason why I wrestled for my bookbag, because it was Pride Day, and my Pride flag was in that backpack," he said.

Wrestling over the backpack actually helped Mertz off the ground, and after a few more minutes of struggling, he was able to get away. The attack left Mertz with a broken jaw, stitches on his forehead, and some other minor injuries. 

He told CBS 3 he doesn't belive he was targeted because of his sexual orientation. He says he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, he said this is the second time he has been attacked on Philadelphia streets.

Police think the teens may have been involved in another incident at nearby store. Anyone with any information is asked to call police at 215-686-TIPS.

Related: Philly Pride Parade: Remembering, celebrating the fight for LGBTQ rights