WASHINGTON – A young gay couple tells FOX 5 they were accused of having monkeypox and attacked in DC’s Shaw neighborhood simply because of their sexual orientation.
DC police have confirmed they are investigating the weekend incident as a possible hate crime.
“I feel like ever since the attack I’ve been in this weird constant fight-or-flight state, like I can’t really feel comfortable, and it feels kind of surreal, I don’t know. not,” said one of the two victims on Tuesday. He spoke with FOX 5 on the phone and asked to go through “Robert” for security reasons.
Robert shared two photos, showing his partner’s broken lip and a bloody shirt from the incident.
According to a police report, the assault happened around 5:40 p.m. on Sunday, August 7.
The two victims say they were walking from U Street to a bus stop near Shaw tube station when a group of young men, believed to be teenagers, called them homophobic slurs, including ‘monkeypox f —-ts”.
Robert tells FOX 5 that at first the couple turned to name-calling, but then decided to walk away.
That’s when he says one of the suspects ran up behind him and punched him as he turned around. His partner was also hit.
Robert went for a checkup on Tuesday after he said he suffered bruises around his temple and forehead.
Robert says his 23-year-old partner, “Antonio”, received three stitches in his mouth.
FOX 5 also spoke with the witness who called 911. This person told us several times that she thought the suspects were going to kill the two victims, describing what she considered a “punch” severe.
The witness says the two victims were minding their own business, crossing the street in the opposite direction when the homophobic slurs began.
“No one should go through what these two went through,” the witness told FOX 5.
Both Robert and his partner say they are from Texas.
“I won’t feel safe for long in DC. I’ll be looking over my shoulder…I’d probably be a little more careful, that’s for sure,” Robert said. “I’ve had far more experiences just this summer than in my entire life. Specifically in the district I live in Alexandria but I go to DC all the time for friends and work and such… So it’s just crazy that it doesn’t… Nothing like this has ever happened to me at the Texas, which I think people associate with being more conservative or homophobic.”
Using the online database, DC police have responded to at least 64 bias-related incidents so far this year (as of June 30) — 23 of those reported were about sexual orientation alone.
High volumes of biased incidents based on sexual orientation were reported in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
DC police have yet to release surveillance videos of suspects in this incident. Robert says the person who attacked him was a black man in a black shirt, black jeans with a small bandage over his face. He also told FOX 5 that two girls broke away from the group of suspects and went back to apologize to him and Antonio.
Mayor Muriel Bowser released a statement on the incident, saying she was “extremely disturbed” by the reported hate crime that occurred in DC over the weekend.
“I want to support the victims. I also want to thank the MPD LGBT Liaison Unit for helping with the investigation. Whenever a hate crime happens in our city, it’s our responsibility collective understanding of the role we each play in building a safer community for everyone who lives in and visits DC,” Bowser said. “We need to stand up for our friends and neighbors, especially at this time when there is too much rhetoric anti-LGBTQ+ sweeping our nation. We need to call out people in our circles if they are promoting a hateful or ignorant ideology, especially at a time when people are using public health to stigmatize and discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community. We stand by our DC values, but protecting and advancing our values is a collective and intentional effort.
DC police have released images (below) of the suspects who allegedly attacked the couple.
Police are asking anyone with knowledge of this incident to call them on (202) 727-9099 or text your tip to the department TEXT ADVICE LINE at 50411. Crime Solvers of Washington, DC is currently offering a reward of up to $1,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and charging of the person(s) responsible for a crime in the District of Columbia.