July 10, 2006
There was violence and fighting on Broad Street in downtown Augusta last week after First Friday events.
Deputies say a group of between 30 to 50 people cornered the victims, beat them, and stole two cell phones.
Officers now say they may need to increase patrols to keep this from happening to anyone else.
A 2002 First Friday ended with a street fight and a man on his way to jail.
But officers say this past weekend's group of attackers got away after randomly beating four men, including 19-year-old Aadil Merchant.
"All I heard is 'get them', and everybody just jumped on us," he says.
The same thing happened with two other men a few feet down the road. The attacks were just minutes apart.
The victims were largely outnumbered, according to Lt. Scott Peebles.
"The estimates that were given were 30 to 50, which is a fairly large number of people," Lt. Peebles says.
"Terrible. I mean, just imagine someone coming unexpectedly behind you," says Merchant.
"The victims say the attackers came up to them from behind as they were walking through downtown in the early morning hours. They say the attackers started kicking and punching them. They also say the group was so big they couldn't tell what the attackers looked like.
Deputies say all the attackers took were two cell phones, and the attackers didn't know their victims.
Ryan Hanna, a First Friday regular, worries about going back. This is the atmosphere he's used to: "It's pretty fun, meet a lot of new people, parties going on."
But the party's over for Aadil: "There was nothing I really could have done. I wish I could have done something."
The victims say they won't head back anytime soon, because they worry scenes like this could happen again.
So far officers have not made any arrests, and they do not know the motive behind the attacks.
Officers say they may increase patrols on First Friday. Right now about six extra deputies patrol the area.