GULFPORT, Fla. — When Brendan Casey woke up from a coma in late January, he didn't know he would be facing two new realities. The one where he tried to recover from severe damage to his brain following a horrific attack and the coronavirus pandemic.
On Jan. 14, Casey's roommate Stephen Moran was arrested and charged with 2nd degree attempted murder. Police say Moran nearly beat Casey to death inside their Gulfport home.
In a lot of ways, Casey says his attack abruptly changed his life in the same way COVID-19 impacted people across the globe.
"My whole life literally, my whole life stopped," Casey said. "They (doctors) told me when I got home, you can't drive, you can't be with your kids one-on-one cause I was having blackouts, and they were afraid of a seizure, and you can't work. So, I won't lie. The first week home, two weeks home, I was feeling so depressed, feeling bad for myself, and then I decided if I live like that, then he wins I might as well have not woken up."
On Jan. 14, Casey told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska a longtime friend and business partner, Stephen Moran, got angry about how a meeting with a potential investor went and took out all of his anger on Casey.
"He just didn't understand why we weren't getting a check that night. He started getting aggressive, he had had a few drinks, and I was like 'listen man go home relax nobody's mad at you it's a good night the guy is agreeing with us it's a good night,' so he went home," Casey said.
Later that night, on his way home, Casey said a friend texted him and tried to warn him that Moran sent a picture of a baseball bat to her phone with a threat he planned to hurt Casey.
"She's like 'don't go home Steve sent me a picture of a baseball bat saying somebody's getting messed up tonight,'" Casey said. "And, she's like 'I'm scared I've never heard him talk like this' and I'm like 'listen, he is one of my best friends, my dogs are home, Jared's home, everything is going to be OK.'"
When Casey got home in the early morning of Jan. 14, he said Moran was waiting for him in ambush.
"I went in the fridge to get some water and right next to my fridge was the bathroom, all of a sudden, the bathroom door flew open, and my back was turned like this. We looked at each other for a few seconds. There were no words spoken, and I got hit in the head the first time with the bat, and I fell to the ground," Casey said. "I was trying to stand up, but my legs wouldn't work, so I was trying to climb up the fridge door, and he came back in with the bat, and he looked down at me, and he went downwards with the bat, and that's what fractured my eye socket, and then I tried crawling away, and the last thing I remember was he put his foot on me he hit me in the side of the head, and I blacked out."
Jared Proctor, Casey's roommate, heard the sound of groaning and the thuds of Casey getting hit over and over again. According to the police report, Moran told responding Gulfport officers that "the more noise he made, the more I beat him." The report goes on to say that Moran admitted to the attack telling officers he is, "f-d up in the head and wants to kill again. And 50% of me has remorse, and the other 50% does not give a (expletive), I mean I just beat the (expletive) out of my friend."
Casey said Jared saved his life, stopping the attack and yelling at Moran to call 911.
"Like, if he hadn't come in at that time, I don't know if one more hit probably there was no skull left to protect my brain. It would've just been skull to the brain," Casey said.
Casey was in a coma for a week. He suffered five broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a laceration to his liver, fractured eye socket and fractured collar bone.
"It is a miracle you survived," Paluska said.
"That what they tell me," Casey said. "I won't lie. The first week home, two weeks home, I was feeling so depressed. Feeling bad for myself and then I decided if I live like that, then he wins. I might as well have not woken up."
The community of Gulfport where Casey lives rallied behind him. He said Low Tide Kava Bar treated him like family. And friends and family from all over the country came to Florida to support his recovery. The local entrepreneur said they kept him alive, and the memory of his kids forced him to fight to survive.
"One of my first memories is my daughter paints my fingernails," Casey said. "So, I remember seeing my fingernails painted, and I started crying cause I remembered I was a dad. My kids, they are my armor."
Casey is still searching for answers.
"It still messes with my head cause I want an answer, and like my dad told me, he might not even have an answer or know why, just snapped," Casey said.
A pre-trial hearing is set for Friday.