Long Island Man in Wheelchair Beaten, Robbed While Leaving Church: Police

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Long Island man was attacked from behind by at least four suspects after he left a Methodist church in Riverhead. Greg Cergol reports. (Published Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014)

    A Long Island man in a wheelchair was beaten and robbed as he was leaving church earlier this month, and police are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. 

    Gene Lyons says he was leaving a Methodist church on Maple Avenue in Riverhead at about 10:30 p.m. on June 1 when four men threw him from his motorized wheelchair, then beat him with sticks or pipes. 

    They stole the 60-year-old Lyons' last $84, and then Lyons said they fled down the railroad tracks nearby, laughing.

    "It wasn't fair," said Lyons, a Navy vet who has used a wheelchair since a car accident 18 years ago. "OK, you got my money. It's fine. I would have given it to you. You didn't have to do this." 

    Lyons suffered knee, wrist and rib injuries. 

    Neighbors like Rashawn MaGee wonder why anyone would target him. 

    "He's a real good person," he said. "He gives, anybody needs anything, he's there." 

    Lyons says he feels disrespected and violated. 

    "I was devastated," he said.

    Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. Police are offering $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. 

    -- Greg Cergol contributed to this report.