Palm Springs couple charged with hate crime in attack on gay couple

Russell Bates (left) and

Russell Bates (left) and

A man and woman have been charged with assault and commission of a hate crime in the May 21 attack on a gay couple following a dispute over a parking spot in downtown Palm Springs.

Russell Bates (left) and Abigail Sheehy

Police said the dispute escalated over a reserved parking spot behind a local shopping center.

The unidentified owners of one of the businesses asked a man and a woman to move their car from a spot reserved for the business. That led to an argument, officials said.

When the unidentified victims began taking photos of the couple, the man and woman “became enraged and began yelling derogatory slurs,” Sgt. Troy Castillo said.

Russell Bates, 24, and Abigail Sheehy, 19, began “to punch the gay couple multiple times with closed fists, causing one of the victims to lose some teeth,” Castillo said.

The victims — domestic partners who are 45 and 63 years old men — also suffered bruises and cuts in the attack.

Riverside County District Attorney’s Office spokesman John Hall called the case unusual for the Coachella Valley, where Palm Springs is known for its gay-friendly reputation.

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