Police are searching for four young men accused of assaulting a gay couple that was holding hands during Miami Beach’s Gay Pride parade. Security cameras captured the unnamed suspects, one wearing a Florida International University T-shirt, walking up to a bathroom on Ocean Drive and Sixth Street at about 7:30pm on Sunday evening. As Rene Chalarca and Dmitry Logunov walked out, they were immediately beset by the group.
One of the attackers shouted a homophobic slur in Spanish before he and the others began repeatedly punching the Logunov and Chalarca. When they ran for safety, the group gave chase.
Police consider the incident felony battery but are also investigating it as a possible hate crime. “For me, the way we were dressed and everything and we were together, it was like, ’Yes, it was a hate crime,’” Chalarca told NBC 6 News. “We probably provoked them because we were walking together, holding hands. It was gay pride, South Beach was full of gay people.”
Helmut Muller Estrada, who witnessed the assault, told the Miami Herald. “They almost killed this guy, literally.” Estrada actually tried to stop the attack, but one of the suspects knocked him out and he hit his head on the concrete. The fall left Muller with a large gash on the back of his head that required four stitches.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight,” he added, “we all should respect each other.”