A family of French tourists are recovering from physical and mental distress after being attacked by a gang of teenagers while out for a walk on Manhattan's Midtown section.
Giles Viguier, 71, and his family were on their way back from dinner on Saturday night when they were approached by the teens on West 55 Street near Broadway. The Frenchman's son-in-law, 29-year-old Michael Poret, debated de-escalating the situation, but said he opted not to get too involved, citing the horror stories he'd heard of criminals in the United States resorting to firearms when confronted.
In an interview with the Daily News, Viguier recounted the incident.
"We were walking back from the restaurant when a bunch of teenagers came from behind," he explained. "One of the teens pushed me and I turned around to get him to stop and he punched me in the head and I went down."
When asked why he thought his family had been targeted, Viguier suggested that the teens "probably heard us speaking French and thought we were tourists," thus making them easy prey.
Poret added that when his wife, Viguier's daughter, tried to intervene to protect her elderly father, she was punched, and chose instead to record the group. When the camera came out, the teens ran away.
"I've seen the videos of what can happen in New York," Poret said, explaining why he didn't get involved. "In Paris, I would have taken them," he added.
Viguier, who was taken to hospital following the incident, told the Daily News that his wife "doesn't feel safe" in the city. "I still love New York," he said, pointing out that such incidents "can happen anywhere," and that their vacation had gone smoothly up until that point. The family was scheduled to fly back to France on Wednesday.
According to the New York Police Department, no arrests have been made in the case. Authorities are searching for five teens, two of whom laid hands upon members of the family.
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