Robert Cobb, 71, had responded to the Danish Brotherhood Lodge and The Mattress Shop in the city's Uptown after after seeing live video of people setting the area on fire, leading him to use a fire extinguisher to spray people attempting to break into the establishments. The mattress store would later burn to the ground, Milwaukee's FOX 6 reported.
“He sprayed them in the face so they had to take their masks off for identification,” said Pamela “Sue” Moniz, owner of The Mattress Shop, according to Kenosha News. “Someone pulled a gun and another person yelled, ‘Don’t shoot this man, don’t shoot this man.’”
Cobb was then hit in the head with a plastic bottle filled with concrete, knocking him to the ground. The fall broke his jaw in two places, split his nose and caused deep cuts to his head.
Video of the incident allegedly showed passersby attending to Cobb immediately after the attack, with one person remarking he needed to turn his head because Cobb was “drowning in his blood."
"He didn't deserve any of that, any of it," a woman can be heard saying on video to others in the area. "This is just wrong guys, do you not see this?"
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO AND LANGUAGE
"Were just trying to protect ourselves," another woman could be heard responding and allegedly defending the incident. "You don't understand what terrifies these Black men out here … Understand, respect. How [a]bout that."
The latest few days of unrest in the city was prompted by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who was reportedly left paralyzed after being struck in the back seven times by Kenosha police Officer Rusten Sheskey.
Blake, 29, admitted to having the knife during the investigation, officials said Wednesday.
Moniz said she and others helped get Cobb into a truck, then drove through "a mass of people" and onto sidewalks just to get him to a hospital, the News reported. He will need surgery to put two removable plates in place and wire his jaw shut, the report said.
The business owner told Kenosha News she was grateful that Cobb tried to defend her business, and that others took care of him as he was lying on the sidewalk.
“I absolutely cry every time I talk about it because this man did this for me,” Moniz said. “He did it because that is the kind of person he is. He is so giving; so selfless.”
A crowdfunding page has since been created and raised nearly $20,000 for Cobb and the business owners.
Protesters walk past police with their arms up, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis., as a building burns in the background. Protests erupted following the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier. (Associated Press)
"I have seen these three folks help neighborhood people for years with money, food, mattresses when no one could afford to pay. They have served the Kenosha community selflessly and so didn't deserve this horrible attack," the fundraiser said.
Moniz told Kenosha News her business plans to cover Cobb’s medical expenses.
“If there is anything left over, that is what we will use to rebuild,” she said. “He absolutely comes first.”