CLEVELAND (WJW) – Residents in a neighborhood on Cleveland’s west side are up in arms after learning that 56-year-old Joe Lewis, who has been a fixture in their lives for decades, was beaten during a robbery early Wednesday morning.   

The victim’s father, James Lewis, says his son has been dealing with a variety of medical issues since he was a young child, but Joe is known as a kind and gentle soul who greets everyone with a smile and a wave.

James was horrified when he was contacted by Cleveland police early Wednesday morning and told that Joe was attacked by three teenagers during a robbery. 

“He doesn’t bother anybody. He won’t fight, do nothing, he won’t do that,” James said.

“They were swearing and called me names,” said Joe.

Joe is beloved in Cleveland’s Puritas-Longmead neighborhood and on Wednesday, a steady stream of his friends and admirers did their best to console him.

“Because he is so genuine. I mean, he’s just so loving and caring and he’s just pure. He’s pure,” said neighborhood block watch leader Laura Aquila.

Joe is often seen walking around the neighborhood, writing notes and handing out cards to friends and neighbors with supplies he carries in his backpack.

Surveillance video obtained by FOX 8 shows Joe walking along West 130th Street just after 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. It was after he crossed West 130th onto Carrington Avenue that he was attacked.

A woman heard Joe screaming for help. She called police and the block watch leader, who eventually found Joe staggering down the street. She then told police and paramedics where to find him.

He told witnesses and police that he was attacked by the three teens who beat him and took his backpack.

“I was so enraged at the way he looked and whoever would hurt or harm a gentle soul like him is beyond me,” said Aquila.

The attackers were apparently under the impression that Joe had valuables in his backpack, when in fact, the only items in the backpack were his note pads, pencils and playing cards.

Cleveland police and longtime neighborhood residents are placing a high priority on identifying the suspects. 

“They’re cowards. They’re pieces of crap. They’re scum. They don’t need to be out here. They need to be arrested,” said Aquila. 

Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to call detectives in Cleveland’s First District.