A 65-year-old Edmonton man is fighting for his life after he was assaulted outside of his home on Wednesday afternoon in what police are describing as an unprovoked attack.

Multiple neighbours identified the man as William Vernon, a retired family man who has lived in the Pollard Meadows neighbourhood for decades and is well known within the community.

Edmonton police said they have a suspect in custody and that charges are pending. They believe that Vernon was violently attacked while out on his daily walk.

He was in the “wrong place, wrong time” when he “ran into this particular suspect,” Scott Pattison, a spokesperson for the Edmonton Police Service, told CTV Edmonton.

Many of Vernon’s neighbours rushed to help him after learning that a man was being kicked in a snowbank. They say he was beaten so violently that he was nearly unrecognizable and unconscious.

“I was just in the neighbourhood and somebody had watched what was going on and ran to me and said, ‘Somebody needs help. They’re being kicked. Call 911,’” said one neighbour, who was still so shaken up that she did not want to reveal her identity.

She added that all of the neighbours “sort of stood there in disbelief” because Vernon and his wife are “the sweetest people.”

“If this happened to him, this could happen to anybody,” she said.

Edmonton police are appealing for witnesses to step forward as they continue their investigation.

“They may have seen something that could be critical to us,” Pattison said.