MANHATTAN — A British marathoner was brutally beaten with a brick in front of his girlfriend as they walked home from a Hell's Kitchen concert Saturday, sources and neighbors said.
The suspect, who was believed to be homeless, shoved Billington's screaming girlfriend out of the way and started rummaging through the marathoner's pockets, sources said. He ran away empty-handed, cops said.
Billington, an England native who was training for the upcoming NYC marathon, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital where he was in critical condition, cops and neighbors said.
"It's horrible," said Michael Rabin of the New York Flyers, a running club where Billington is a member.
"We're all rallying around him to offer what support we can," Rabin said. "We think of him as family. He's had serious injuries. Everyone's hoping for the best."
"He's a terrific and wonderful person," said Billington's Upper West Side neighbor, Rick Bennett.
Billington has run marathons in Tokyo, London and Chicago and recently completed a Sept. 15 race, running 18 miles in 2 hours, 11 minutes and 19 seconds, according to the New York Road Runners.
"He was running so well" said Bennett, 54. "He was shooting for his personal record."
Billington's attacker was believed to be in his early 20s, 6 feet tall and about 165 pounds, cops said.
He was last seen wearing a red hoodie, black baseball cap, blue waist-length jacket, black jeans and black and white sneakers, police said.
Billington, who works for Thompson Reuters, was beloved by friends who were shocked to learn what happened to him.
"He's a very well liked, well loved and respected member of our community," Rabin said. "We're praying for his speedy and full recovery."
"He's social and always says, 'Good morning,'" said neighbor Joseph Kundrat, 53.
"This is absolutely sickening," Kundrat said. "I hope they catch this guy."
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).