A decorated U.S. Marine Corps veteran was allegedly attacked and robbed by a group of teenagers outside a McDonald's restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Chris Marquez, 30, said he was eating a burger at McDonald's on Feb. 12 when a group of eight rowdy teenagers approached him and began taunting him.
"They asked me if I believe that black lives matter," Marquez told WJLA. "I felt threatened and thought they were trying to intimidate me, so I figured I'm just going to keep to my food, eat my food, and hopefully they'll leave me alone. And because I wasn't respond back to them, they were calling me a racist."
When Marquez left the restaurant, the group reportedly followed him outside.
"As soon as I walked out of the McDonald's I got hit in the back of the head,or the side of the head," Marquez said. "I just dropped to the ground, and he says I looked unconscious."
The teens reportedly beat the man on the ground and took his wallet, which contained $400 in cash, three credit cards, and his Veteran's Affairs medical card. One youth allegedly hit him in the head with a handgun, according to The Daily Mail.
Marquez was taken to George Washington Hospital following the incident, where he was treated for head trauma, an eye contusion, and cuts and bruises to his face.
"My head really hurts," Marquez said, according to WJLA. "I get this sharp pain, straight down my face, and I haven't really slept too well at all since it happened."
He added that he believed the incident was a hate crime and he was targeted because he was white.
Marquez's assailants reportedly rang up $115 in charges on his credit cards soon after robbing him, according to the Daily Mail. The man said he hoped the electronic trail would help police track them down.
Marquez, who is now a student at American University, spent eight years of active service duty as a rifleman and scout sniper for the U.S. Marine Corps, serving from 2003 to 2011. During that time, he was deployed to Iraq three times and Afghanistan once.
During his first deployment, Marquez was awarded a Bronze Star for valor after he carried his deceased commander's body out of battle following an ambush.
He is best known for appearing in a photograph in which he and another Marine carried a wounded sergeant out of a house in Fallujah, Iraq, after the infamous "House of Hell" firefight in 2004. The image has since inspired statues on two military bases in California and North Carolina.