STOCKTON — More than 500 people turned out to help Stockton’s Victory Grill raise money for a 71-year-old man with special needs who was attacked and robbed last week, selling out of all 700 hamburgers and more than 500 pounds of french fries, organizers said Wednesday.


A GoFundMe fundraiser for John Lee Williams has also raised $2,313 to date, more than twice its original $1,000 goal.


“I care about him. I bought my first business 27 years ago; he came and asked if he could sweep up to make a couple of dollars, and he’s been with me ever since,” Victory Grill owner Mike Linker said as he juggled a dish of french fries while helping his daughter Macie Linker put the meals together. “He’s got a kind, caring, loving soul. He needs somebody to look after him because he has nobody. I’ve tried to keep an eye out for him. He has become part of my family.”


Williams, still bearing visible injuries from the attack, was busy greeting customers with Brenda Linker, Mike’s wife, as she helped out at Victory Grill during Wednesday’s fundraiser.


Last Thursday, Williams was attacked by two men between 18 and 23 years old just before 7 p.m. on East Main Street. They hit Williams three times, then took his wallet, which had his entire life in it, so it was a big loss for the homeless senior.


Mike Linker decided to sell his classic burgers and fries between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday, with 25% of proceeds going to assist Williams with purchasing clothing, food and whatever else is needed.


“I was devastated when we heard we what happened. I scratch my soul that people would do something like that; he’s harmless, he’s harmless,” one customer said at the popular Monte Diablo Avenue restaurant.


Linker bought 700 hamburger patties, 150 pounds of potatoes and 75 pounds of pesto pasta for the effort. By 3 p.m. Wednesday, Linker had to make a run for more hamburgers.


“We are so thankful to the community for all the donations, money, love and support they have shown,” Brenda Linker said. “John Lee is delighted and we’ve never seen him happier.”


Contact photographer Calixtro Romias at (209) 943-8543 or cromias@recordnet.com.