WASHINGTON — District of Columbia police on Monday acknowledged that a hate crime investigation is under way after a gay couple’s Saturday night out ended in a brutal beating.
One of the victims, 29-year-old Michael Hall Jr., suffered a broken jaw and fractured cheekbone in the attack, and had emergency surgery performed early Monday morning at the Howard University Hospital Center.
Hall, a local yoga instructor, and his boyfriend Michael Roike were heading home from a restaurant just after midnight Sunday when they were ambushed by about five teenagers in the Eckington section of northeast D.C., reported WRC-TV.
Roike told WRC-TV that “four or five kids just came out of nowhere without any warning.”
“We didn’t think it was a robbery because they didn’t immediately ask for something. They just came out swinging and hitting,” Roike said.
A woman and her boyfriend went to their aid and managed to get the couple to safety.
Roike said he’s not sure if he and Hall were attacked because of their sexual orientation.
“I can’t think of another reason other than we got out of a fancy town car and we were walking in a not great part of town at a late hour,” Roike said. “We were probably holding hands. It could have been because we’re gay, but I don’t know for sure.”
Hall’s parents, Michael Sr., and Gail Hall of Colonial Beach, Va., located a few hours south of D.C., said that they worried for their son’s safety when he moved to the District nine years ago.
“It’s so unnecessary in this day and age, when everybody could just get along,” Gail Hall said.
The Metropolitan Police spokesperson told LGBTQ Nation that the investigation was active and that no suspects had been identified nor arrests made as of Monday evening.