Salt Lake City police have identified the suspect in an alleged hate crime caught on camera over the weekend.
The reported attack occurred early Sunday morning in downtown Salt Lake City, just three blocks south of the Salt Lake Temple, the center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Sal Trejo, 29, said he was leaving a bar when he overheard someone near him talking on the phone about standing near a gay person.
“It started with him approaching us out of the blue and making homophobic and misogynistic comments towards our group,” Trejo wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. Trejo then said he started to record video of the "intoxicated man," who "went on to hit me and shove one of our girlfriends."
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A video Trejo posted to Twitter appears to show a young man asking him, "Are you gay, though?," to which Trejo, who is off camera, can be heard responding, "Oh, I am." The man then says, "All right then, you're gay," as he throws a punch.
"We called the police immediately," Trejo said in his Twitter statement. "He then pulled out a knife and pointed it towards us while continue to call us faggots. He eventually ran off, got into his car (in his intoxicated state) and drove on the light-rail tracks until he sped off away from Main Street."
According to Salt Lake City Police Department Detective Greg Wilking, the police have made contact with the suspect.
"We are hoping that he will come in and talk with us, but we don't have anything set in stone yet with that," Wilkings said. The police declined to release the suspect's name.
Wilkings said the department is still trying to speak to any witnesses involved and to track down all available surveillance video footage in the area.
As for whether the crime will be "enhanced" with hate crimes charges, "that all comes down to the DA's office," Wilkings said. "It is being investigated as a possible hate crime, but obviously we have got to do our job and investigate it and see where it leads us."
State Senator Derek Kitchen, who is gay and represents District 2, which covers downtown Salt Lake City where the attack occurred, said, "Hate crimes are especially bad because they have two victims: the individual who is attacked, and also the community who they represent."
"Our existing hate crimes law does not enumerate 'bias' or 'hate' and doesn’t include the specific groups to be protected," Kitchen said. "We need a hate crimes law that actually works. It’s time for Utah leaders to step up and stand by the LGBTQ+ community.”
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