NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - An elderly North Little Rock man is recovering from an attack in his garden last week and while his body is bruised, his spirit and dedication remain strong.
Last Thursday, 70-year-old Frank Hilliard, who is the Operations Director at the Arkansas Foodbank, was working in his garden when he heard a sound behind him, which is not unusual in the busy Barring Cross neighborhood.
"I looked up and this young guy was standing in front of me about four feet from me," Hilliard recalled. "I have no idea where they came from. Then, I turned around and looked, cause I felt something going on, and there was another young guy standing behind me that had jumped my fence.”
After the two made some small talk about gardening, one of them attempted to take Hilliard's billfold, but he managed to fight him off. It wasn't until the suspect grabbed Hilliard's own garden hoe when things took a turn for the worse.
"The hoe hit me right here. There's two cuts there,” Hilliard said, showing off two contusions on the back of his head.
Hilliard said he recognized one of the men from the neighborhood and could pick the guys out of a lineup if he had to.
"I also told him before the attack started, that I recognized him, and knew he lived in the neighborhood," he said.
He's one of many victims in what seems to be a growing trend of elderly people being targeted in North Little Rock.
"We had another incident a few weeks ago where a female tried to knock on the door of a senior citizen's door, they got in the house, and stole items," said Sergeant Brian Dedrick with the North Little Rock Police Department. "Senior citizens, they have big hearts. They want to help you. So when somebody comes to their house or is asking them a question, they don't see a threat.”
Hilliard's 86-year-old mother told us a lot has changed in the neighborhood since she moved there 46 years ago. Back then, it was a thriving community full of retired rail road workers. Now, it's full of abandoned homes and alleged drug deals happening on the corner.
Despite a few break ins and a little mischief, Hilliard said he always felt safe in his back yard.
"The truth is, I had no money in my wallet," he admitted. "They were doing it for nothing, yet I didn't want them to have it and fought them off."
Still, he said he feels lucky to have survived the garden hoe attack.
"The blow on the head could have done a lot more damage than it did. I'm very thankful that I got off as light as I did," he said.
Dedrick said it's the community's responsibility to keep an eye out for our senior citizens. He also stressed to elderly residents to be cautious opening your door for someone you don't know.
Police say they've already had a couple of tips and think they're close to making an arrest in the garden hoe attack. If arrested, the suspects will face a felony charge due to Hilliard being over the age of 60.