Witness to violent punch during Columbia protest helps the victim to safety

Updated: Jun. 4, 2020 at 10:38 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Marion Crush Rush, who works as a freelance photojournalist in Columbia, said he has covered his share of protests.

But he said what he saw on Saturday required him to put down his camera and rush to the aid of someone in distress. Rush was snapping photos and capturing video on Saturday as peaceful protests in Columbia turned violent. Rush said he was walking near Columbia Police headquarters when he looked to his left and saw a tense situation unfolding.

He said he heard a group of people yelling that another man was calling the police. That’s when Rush said the group quickly surrounded the victim and one of them punched the man, knocking him to the pavement.

The violent moment was captured on video and has circulated online.

“There was no chance for him.” Rush said. “I’ll never forget it. He was out. You could tell that he was out. His eyes were wide open, straight to the sky. That's when I knew he was in trouble.”

Authorities are still actively looking for the person who threw the punch that knocked the victim unconscious.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott released the video Thursday morning, in a press conference

detailing the arrests of other several men for their roles in violence and vandalism that unfolded in Columbia over the weekend.

Rush has since learned the victim of the punch he witnessed was a local business manager, who was not calling the police but was instead walking in the area trying to figure out if the situation was safe for his employees.

As soon as the punch was thrown and Rush saw the man fall, he ran over to provide first aid, along with others at the scene. The victim was unconscious at first. Once he became alert, Rush said the group helped the victim get to first responders more than a block away.

“Thankfully, there were people right there at that moment because I was on the other side that rushed in also to help back people away,” Rush explained. “We got him up and he was able to sit down. He had a laceration on his eye. We still knew he was in trouble and needed assistance because he could not answer basic questions."

Rush said the group was able to get the man help as first responders faced their own dangers on the scene.

“The fire truck had just driven in to put out a fire and they got pelted with rocks.” Rush said.

When asked if he considered himself a hero, Rush said, “There is nothing heroic about being a decent human being. It's something we should all strive to be.”

Rush also insisted while a few people caused the man severe harm, many more stepped in to save him.

“We are out here protesting the lack of humanity, essentially,” Rush explained. “At that moment in protesting the lack of humanity, you have to be a human yourself.”

Rush said the family of the victim is grateful to all of those who helped. At this time, the family asks for privacy as the victim recovers from his injuries. His condition is not known.

Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to call authorities.

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