KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Police are looking for several men who severely beat a highly-respected army captain and Purple Heart recipient outside a restaurant on the Country Club Plaza.
Relatives say the 37-year-old Purple Heart recipient is lucky he survived the attack that happened late Friday night outside the Zocalo Mexican Restaurant.
"He’s confused. He's angry. He doesn't understand. He doesn't know why this happened," said the victim’s cousin, who asked to remain anonymous. “It's very hard for him but all he can say is ‘I’m lucky to be here.’"
He says that night his cousin and two friends from Fort Leavenworth went to the restaurant for drinks.
Family members say while inside the restaurant the victim apparently bumped into a man he didn't know. A man, FOX 4 is told, restaurant managers asked to leave after he became hostile.
"Some words were exchanged. My cousin tried to defuse the situation and tried to walk away," said the family member of the victim.
Friends say the army captain apologized, but minutes later witnesses say when the soldier stepped outside where at least eight other guys repeatedly kicked him, punched him and knocked him unconscious.
"They were repeatedly kicking and punching him, there's no other intent but to kill. It's horrible," recalled the victim's brother.
Relatives say the victim suffered multiple facial fractures, massive swelling and his nose had to be reconstructed.
"It really is a miracle that my brother survived that attack. He now has more than two dozen metal plates in his face and forehead and I have no doubt he could've died and they didn't care," added the army captain's brother.
Police say after the violent crime all of the attackers hopped into a white vehicle and sped off.
"He comes home and this is what his own people do to him? It's absolutely sad,” said the man’s cousin.
The critically injured soldier was upgraded to good condition and then after about two weeks of treatment, he was released from the hospital. His family says he has resumed performing his military duties in Leavenworth.
Officers are asking anyone who may have witnessed the attack to call the Kansas City Police Department or the TIPS Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS (8477).