Five people who've made their home in the woods in Pascagoula say they've been the victims of repeated harassment. Saturday, that harassment escalated into a violent attack. They lost everything they owned, and one man says he had to do the unthinkable to save his life.
A week ago Paul Huff lived at a campsite in the woods. Saturday night, as he and several others who lived there walked down the trail to the camp, they were attacked.
"This kid jumped out of the bushes with an aluminum bat, hit me in the head, knocked me down," said Huff. "I tried to get up then they knocked me down again and then started hitting me all over my entire body. Broke my arm and my leg."
One of his friends tried to help Huff get away.
"He picked me up cause I couldn't walk anymore," said Huff. "They were trying to carry me down the path and out of there. Then they hit him in the head a couple of times and knocked him down. Then they jumped on me."
Eventually, Huff says, he had no choice but to play dead and take the beating.
"They would've kept on going, probably, til I was dead. It was hard to just lay there and let them hit me," says Huff.
Huff says this wasn't the first time they were attacked, but the times before their attackers kept their distance.
"They gradually built up in courage from using fireworks on us, to using rocks, shooting fire extinguishers off in our tents and throwing a lot heavier things like railroad spikes," says Huff.
Huff's sister Kathy, who is also homeless, took WLOX reporter Josh Ridgdell to the campsite to show him the damage in this attack and others.
"Imagine this thing coming flying at you or this with the point," said Kathy as she rummaged through projectiles that had been thrown at them by their attackers.
All the tents at the campsite were destroyed, along with their few possessions inside.
"I think it's really sad because we were just trying to get by. We weren't trying to hurt anybody," said Kathy.
Huff's doctors say it'll take at least three to four months for his injuries to heal. But Huff says the recovery process will take a little longer. You see, not only did he lose all his belongings, he also lost his ability to work.
Huff had just completed his first week on the job at a local industry and was just five days away from putting a plan into motion that would get he and his sister out of the woods for good.
"We were so close to getting out of here," says Kathy.
"You really just gotta go with the flow and pick up where you left off," says Paul Huff.
Huff says the only thing he and his sister have left is hope that someday they'll have a safe place to call home.