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Ybor City attack survivor criticizes "Empire" star for faking assault

Posted at 11:11 PM, Feb 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-22 23:16:34-05

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa man who survived an assault and robbery in 2017 says he's upset someone like Jussie Smollett would fake an assault.

“I had a broken nose. I woke up the next morning in my own blood in Ybor City, in an alley way,” said Dr. Peter Reeber.

Ybor City roosters woke Peter Reeber up almost two years ago after someone hit him over the head and robbed him after leaving Bradley’s bar. Then they dumped him, unconscious.

“Someone will see this and think, look at him on the outside, he looks fantastic. I have night terrors still. I wake up, there are days, I wake up, we’re almost 2 years later, I wake up and I don’t know where I am,” he said.

Police believe a suspect or suspects ambushed Reeber from behind in July of 2017.

Surveillance video caught suspects from a string of similar attacks in Ybor City around the same time.

Reeber is devastated someone like the “Empire” star actor Jussie Smollett would fabricate an assault when Reeber’s still coping with PTSD and other disabilities.

“It’s just infuriating to me that somebody may be able to come up with and say, make a fabricated story for their own personal game,” he said.

Reeber suffered a traumatic head injury, short term memory loss and still can’t go back to work as a pharmacist.

Although he’s made significant progress, the assault still haunts him almost two years later.

“Always thinking that someone is over your shoulder and going to attack you and do something to you,” he said.

Reeber encourages other assault or hate crime victims to come forward without hesitation, even with Smollett in the headlines.

“The things that they took aren’t as important as what they do to you inside and I don’t think they realize what they do to you for the rest of your life,” he said.