A father-of-two was left covered in blood after being attacked by a gang of yobs – when he asked them to stop shooting ducks in a park.
Matt Devine, 45, intervened when he spotted four youths using an air rifle in a park regularly used by mums and young children.
The professional photographer then got his camera out to snap the culprits – and one of them punched him in the face.
They ended up in a tussle on the floor and the other teenagers joined in the attack, kicking and punching Matt as he tried to protect himself.
He immediately dialed 999 after the incident but is furious that officers took 30 hours to respond – and only when he took to Twitter to criticise their response.
Matt said: “All I saw was a big, black rifle, it could have been anything and really scared people.
“They could have hit anyone – it was a really dangerous thing for people to be doing.
“I am not some sort of vigilante but I had to challenge them. I take my daughter through that park and just could not believe it.
The incident took place as Matt walked through Crox Bottom park in Hartcliffe, Bristol, on Tuesday (10/3) morning.
He got his camera out to catch the gang in the act before he was punched in the face by one of the teens, who said he was a boxer.
“It all escalated from there,” Matt said. “We managed to end up in a hedge and I was trying to restrain him. He punched me in the eye and the others were trying to stamp on me.”
He was left with a lacerated eye and bloodied face and needed four hours of treatment in hospital.
Matt, who lives in Hartcliffe, phoned 999 shortly before 10am on Tuesday but police did not arrive to interview him until 1pm on Wednesday.
He believes they only turned up after he took to Twitter to vent his frustration.
“The police didn’t turn up for 30 hours and I think that’s only because I tweeted them and a lot of people got involved online,” he said.
“They’ve been very nice and apologised since, but it took too long in the first place.
“They don’t take it seriously because it’s an air rifle, but that could still really hurt someone.
“Just that day they put out an appeal for help finding people who shot a 16-year-old in the face with an air rifle – they’re very dangerous.
“Idiots get hold of them and go around shooting people’s cats.”
His attackers are described as being aged between 17 and 19-years-old. Three of them were around 5ft 8ins or 5ft 9ins.
The one wearing a black hooded top with white tracksuit bottoms, who punched the dad-of-two, was about 6ft 2ins.
Avon and Somerset Police confirmed they were called to the park at 9.53am and are investigating an assault on a man by four youths.
Anyone with information should call officers on 101.
An RSPCA spokesman said: “The injuries caused by such attacks are horrific and often fatal.
“Cats and wildlife are normally the animals that are more susceptible to these incidents, simply because they are out in the open with no one to protect them.
“We are calling for tighter controls with better education and explanation of the law when buying an air gun, and that everyone must receive basic safety training before being allowed to walk out of the shop.
“It is illegal to shoot at and cause unnecessary suffering to any domestic animal with an air weapon.”