A woman who saw a man and his 13-year-old son and their dog dragged from their vehicle and hit with baseball bats, has described the attack as horrifying.
It can be revealed the vehicle the pair were dragged from was a red and black ute emblazoned with the words "Notorious". They had driven past a funeral when they were followed by a van with mourners inside and set upon.
A woman, who spoke to the Manawatu Guardian on condition of anonymity, said she heard a loud noise on Princess St in Palmerston North just after 3pm on Saturday.
"I heard this metal banging and I thought that someone's car had dropped so low it might have been hanging on the ground. But the bangs kept coming and they got louder."
After heading out to see what was happening, the witness described being confronted with a harrowing scene: "A black flash as custom van pulled up behind this red ute at the lights. Six guys jumped out and started smashing in all the windows of this ute with aluminium baseball bats.
"They smashed it up, all the windows, and dragged the guy out. They hit the kid who was in the passenger seat and the two dogs were also in the cab.
"They must have damaged the door because the poor kid was trying to get it open, he was holding his arm and you could see a huge black mark, like a bruise that had come up immediately."
She said the men seemed less interested in the 13-year-old boy, who then began yelling for help.
"There were people gathered all over, big guys too, but no one helped. The father was on the ground and they were just hammering him. The side of his face was caved in, he was covered in blood."
She said people were watching in shock and appeared too scared to intervene.
"One of them then started on the dogs because they had got out of the ute when the kid opened the door. A guy was just laying into one of them bringing the bat down onto it, over the neck and in the side of its face. I thought he was going to kill that dog."
She said once the men had finished they looked at one another, got back in their van and did a U-turn back down Main St.
"They had come from the funeral up the road and they went back that way. There were people from the funeral watching this from the Cobb across the road.
"These men didn't have their faces covered and they didn't care who was watching. These men were all in black, were well groomed, they were spic-and-span looking."
After they left, the woman spoke to the 38-year-old victim.
"He was on the ground and saying he couldn't breathe. He was just saying, 'f***, f***, what the f*** man, I was just driving past the funeral then I had these guys up my ass'."
She said by the time police arrived the men had disappeared.
"The police took at least 10 minutes and when they got there, they didn't cordon off the scene. It looked like they didn't really know what to do."
The father and son were taken to hospital, and the boy had a fractured arm.
The dog needed veterinary attention.
Police said they were still looking for the offenders and asked anyone with information to come forward, stating anonymity would be guaranteed.
They would not elaborate on any motivation for the attack but said police were sickened that adult males would attack a young person at any time.
Anyone with information is asked to call Central District Police on (06) 351 3781. Alternatively, information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.