Blind Salvation Army bell ringer attacked on lunch break

GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — A blind Salvation Army bell ringer was beaten up when a lunch break turned into a dispute with other customers at a suburban New York burger joint, police and the victim said.

A man and a woman have been charged in what Greenburgh police Chief Christopher McNerney called “a vicious assault,” The Journal News reported. The attack sent bell ringer Jermaine Simmons to a hospital over the weekend with facial fractures, but he was back in bell-ringing action Tuesday.

Simmons told the newspaper the clash started with an argument Saturday with another man over whether he was jumping the line at a burger eatery.

“He got in my face, I got in his face and he just, like, hit me” in the face, said Simmons, 41, who said he’s legally blind.

The punch knocked him to the ground, where the man and a woman kicked and pummeled him, Simmons said. Ultimately, he said, the man tossed his donation kettle and some ketchup and mustard bottles at him.

Juan Rodriguez, 30, and Audrianna Wignal, 21, are being held on $25,000 bond after being charged with assault. Neither has entered a plea.

Wignal’s lawyer, Bernard Bacharach, told The Journal News that he was still reviewing the case, but “it looked like tempers flared.”

Rodriguez is being represented by the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County, which didn’t immediately return a call Thursday about his case.

Simmons suffered a broken nose and a smashed orbital bone before a restaurant manager intervened. But as soon as he got out of the hospital, he asked Salvation Army officials when he could go back to bell ringing, said Alexis Castillo, the commanding officer of the organization’s staff in the area.

“He’s going to stand up and keep going,” Castillo said.

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