Five male teenagers were being sought after a 46-year-old homeless man was hit with a bat and repeatedly stabbed near the Ventura Promenade, authorities said Monday.
The incident began about 7:50 p.m. Sunday in the 400 block of Harbor Boulevard (map), where the victim was on the third level of a parking structure when one of the boys asked him for a lighter, according to a news release from the Ventura Police Department.
After the man let the teens use his lighter, one of them "without provocation" struck him in the head with a bat, the release said.
The victim, a local vagrant identified as John Stephen Wood, attempted to escape by running down the stairs of the structure, police said.
The boys chased the man, stabbed him six times in his back and buttocks, and then fled through the structure when Wood reached the promenade, according to the statement.
The victim was treated at the scene by firefighters before being transported to Ventura County Medical Center, where he underwent surgery. He was expected to survive, authorities said.
"He's really sore and really beaten up," friend Kathy Powell said.
A former carpenter, the victim was described as popular in the city's homeless community, where he goes by "Woody."
"What happened to him was terrible. He didn't deserve that," said Russell Lamb, who described himself as a good friend of the victim.
The attackers were described by the victim as Hispanic males 16 to 18 years old, police Cmdr. Darrell Schindler said. Investigators were hoping to speak to Wood further to get a better description of the assailants.
The incident occurred less than 3 miles from a Ventura beach where, on Jan. 17, three men doused another homeless man with lighter fluid and set him on fire, according to police.
That attack began while the 58-year-old victim was asleep in a sleeping bag at the end of Seaward Avenue (map). The assailants, who remain at large, are described as white, in their late teens or early 20s, with shaved heads and dark clothing.
The two attacks prompted dozens of concerned Ventura residents to attend a standing-room only city council meeting Monday night.
"We're just horrified that there's violence like this in our community," said Rabbi Lisa Hochberg-Miller with Temple Beth Torah. "Two incidents in two weeks is just absolutely heartbreaking."
Anyone with information was asked to call the Ventura Police Department at 805-339-4309.
KTLA's Melissa Pamer and Kennedy Ryan contributed to this article.