A man claims he was beaten and threatened with a gun last Tuesday at the Memphis Zoo because he’s gay.
Reginald Buckner was hanging out near the dining area at the zoo with some friends when two women came over asking if they could use his cell phone.
When Buckner said no, the women asked if he and his friends were gay, and he told the women that they were.
“They just asked all of us were we gay and we were like ’Yeah’ and they say ’You know you’re going to hell right?’ and I said ’Wow,'” Buckner told WMC Action News 5.
He said that the women were then joined by a group of men and the verbal homophobia quickly spiraled into physical violence.
Buckner was punched in the face and on the back before one of the attackers brandished a gun.
“They just started out of nowhere physically assaulting,” he remarked. “When she lifted up the gun everybody just started running.”
The 23-year-old victim was sent to the emergency room and was treated for bruising on his back, a swollen face and a black eye.
Memphis police appeared on the scene but said the attackers had already fled by the time they arrived. Officers are still on the lookout for the aggressors.
Though Buckner said he’s angry at the men and women who attacked him, he’s also frustrated with the workers who allowed the gun to be brought into the zoo in the first place.
“I am literally just disgusted by them period,” he explained. “Because of the simple fact that they want to search everyone everywhere else. Why don’t they want to search at the zoo for weapons?”
The Memphis Zoo responded in a statement: “This was an isolated incident. The safety of all of our guests is of utmost importance and one of our top priorities. This matter is currently being handled by the Memphis Police Department.”