Life for a McAllen pet store mascot is supposed to be as simple as shaking a fin.
Cristin Vazquez thought a little heckling and the heat would be the only job hazards as a fish-costume greeter outside Woofles pet store along the 5000 block of North 10th Street. He was wrong. "It was a tackle," he said. "When I was on the ground I could tell and he got up and ran... I could tell he was on top of me... And I could tell he was bigger than me." "Fishy" as the mascot is known, knew something fishy was going on when he found himself face down just feet from traffic along a busy street. Cristin works in the costume for about 21 hours a week. He makes minimum wage. The money helps him pay for college tuition. But what was supposed to be an easy and fun job has left him bloodied, bruised and blindsided. At just 5 feet, 4 inches, the 120 pounder injured his right arm and knee in last week's attack near traffic. As many as 4 eyewitnesses have come forward to the 18-year-old's aid. One man, who only wants to be identified as Stephen, describes over the phone what he sees while behind the wheel. "We saw this guy just run across the parking lot... There was a set of hedges there... And he went right there the hedges... it was like a 250 pound linebacker... Hitting a 120 pound running back... That's what it looked like... I think it was a totally stupid and senseless act." Cristin's boss at Woofles is stunned somebody would purposefully harm his employee. "We just wanted him to put a smile on somebody's face," Jesse Flores said. "To shop at Woofles... That's all we expected." Not even two weeks on the job and Cristin feels like a fish out of water. He fears his attacker could return. "I turn around more... I look more at the parking lot... Just in case anything suspicious," he said. It's a fish tale he hopes to never relive again. Police investigators have been given the license plate number of the alleged attacker TMs getaway vehicle. The suspect faces an assault charge. Anyone with information is urged to contact the McAllen Police Department. Click here to join Ryan Wolf TMs Facebook pageClick here to follow Ryan Wolf on Twitter