As a homeless man who was brutally beaten outside a Philadelphia gas station clings on to life, his heartbroken sister is speaking out for the first time.
“What action could he have done to deserve such a brutal beating?” asked Diane Barnes.
Diane’s brother, 51-year-old Robert Barnes, was attacked by at least six people at a Sunoco gas station at 5th Street and Somerville Avenue in Olney back on April 7.
Surveillance video captured the group attacking him with a hammer, a piece of wood and Mace. Barnes was taken to the Einstein Medical Center where he remains in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit. His head is covered in staples and 40 percent of his skull was removed.
“He’s not coherent and he’s not responding,” Diane said. “So I really can’t talk to him and I don’t know if he hears me.”
Diane says her brother suffers from alcoholism and repeatedly chose to live in the streets of Olney rather than with relatives where he’d have to stay sober. Despite this, she continued to support her brother and checked on him every week.
“He had a loving family,” she said. “He’s a brother. He was an uncle. He was a nephew. We loved him. It didn’t make him any different of a person because he was homeless.”
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
Two women were arrested and charged in last week’s attack and police continue to search for more suspects. Despite earlier reports, police say there’s no evidence Robert Barnes did anything to provoke the beating. He will receive a feeding tube in his stomach as well as a tracheotomy tube as he continues to fight for his life.
“I’d like everyone to pray for my brother,” Diane said. “Right now he needs prayers. He needs prayers really badly.”
If you have any information on the attack, please call Philadelphia Police.