Was the attack recorded on video at a Miami Beach Burger King really a hate crime like the victims allege? As new evidence emerges and witnesses come forward, police are investigating the possibility that Jordan Schaeffer and Eric Danko may not have been telling the whole truth about what happened that night.
On social media and in televised interviews, Schaeffer has claimed that an unknown man attacked him after he kissed Danko, his boyfriend, at the restaurant. Other witnesses, also gay men, say that isn’t true and they’re upset that the two are painting the situation as homophobic in nature. Instead, they say Schaeffer was the aggressor.
“Some friends and I witnessed this incident and the story being told by [Schaeffer] is completely inaccurate,” one man, who asked to remain anonymous while he cooperates with police, wrote on Facebook. “As we saw it, he is mainly responsible for the fight and the altercation had nothing to do with his sexual identity. I’ve already contacted Miami police to offer my perspective, if they want it.”
The man, who was visiting South Beach from Washington, DC, says that the couple didn’t kiss at all. Instead, he says Schaeffer came out of the bathroom with Danko after arguing with him most of the night and tried to pick a fight with multiple patrons – including him.
“He actually instigated a fight with me,” he claimed. He “was trying to pick a fight with anyone that would engage. He just seemed very angry from the get-go. The other guy came over to calm him down and [Schaeffer] turned to him aggressively.”
Another witness, Joey Cooke from Nashville, Tennessee, agrees that Danko and Schaeffer had been arguing all night and seemed intoxicated.
“The story Jordan is giving is completely false,” Cooke told Bilerico Report in an exclusive interview. “He was fighting with his boyfriend the entire night. They were in the bathroom at Burger King and when Jordan came out, he started crap with someone else and talking about fighting. When the other guy got involved, Jordan continued to talk shit and threatened to fight him. He approached the guy to fight him and it didn’t end up in his favor. There was absolutely no kiss involved and had nothing to do with being gay or a hate crime.”
Instead, Cooke says Schaeffer, who works as an escort in Los Angeles under the name Jason Strick, was trying to make Danko jealous. “He was bragging about what his clients buy him and showing off his Rolex watch. He then started telling people that they can find him on rentmen.com,” he said. “My partner is seen in the video standing against the wall. Jordan was soliciting himself to him and other people.”
A profile available to rentmen.com under the name Jason Strick includes a photo prominently displayed on Schaeffer’s Facebook page. After media and police inquires earlier today, the rentmen profile was removed.
The police report filed by the responding officer states that Danko and Schaeffer were “in a noticeable argument” outside of the restaurant when police arrived on scene. It says “Danko became irate” and “stormed through the business” to chase down the suspects. Police officers found Danko standing in the middle of a busy street and the report says he refused to move out of the street to safety and acted aggressively toward the officer. Danko was handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car while officers investigated.
The report also says that Schaeffer was uncooperative with police before finally telling them that the attack was spurred by kissing his partner. Danko did not confirm the account, instead repeatedly telling officers that “I’ve never been in a physical fight before,” and “My father is a federal judge.” After finally providing officers his name, Danko “continued his disruptive behavior and had to be warned to calm down” repeatedly according to the police report. Prior to leaving, Danko told officers he was high on the party drug GHB and that they “could not prove anything.”
While Schaeffer showed his injuries during a television interview earlier this week, the attack actually happened on March 14 and both men refused to allow police to photograph their injuries. The report only describes Schaeffer’s injury as “suffering a lacerated lip.”
Ernesto Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department, confirms that new witnesses have come forward that shed a new light on the incident.
“Our detectives opted to release the surveillance video in hopes we can identify the suspect but also to get other witnesses,” Rodriguez told Bilerico Report. “We have received new witness testimony that we are investigating. I can’t confirm the specific information provided, but additional information is coming forward.”
“We only have one side of the story. We’d like to speak to more people. At the end of the day, there was a battery. That’s clearly depicted. What we need to do is find out what triggered that battery. We need to speak to everyone involved.”
Rodriguez said that if Schaeffer and Danko lied to authorities about the altercation, the district attorney’s office may decide to charge them with filing a false police report.
Calls placed to the numbers Schaeffer and Danko provided to police officers and the number listed on the escort website were not returned.