Police are searching for a man suspected in a violent attack against two gay men early Sunday morning in New York City.
The victims had just left Metropolitan, a popular gay bar in Brooklyn’s hip Williamsburg neighborhood, when they were approached by the suspect. The suspect uttered anti-gay slurs before attacking the two men just a block away from the bar, according to New York City Police Department Sergeant Jessica McRorie.
“The individual punched the 34-year-old in the face which caused him to lose consciousness,” McRorie said in an email to NBC News. “He then grabbed the 29-year-old and threw him against a tree; also rendering him unconscious.”
The younger victim was treated at a hospital for a broken finger, and the other was taken to a hospital with a fractured shoulder, according to McRorie.
Steven McEnrue, the general manager of Metropolitan, said the bar staff just learned of the attack on Monday, because the victims were attacked after leaving the bar.
“I spoke with the victim, as he is a friend,” McEnrue said via Facebook messenger of the 29-year-old victim. “He said he is fine. He reported the incident to the police and was instructed to not speak to reporters.”
The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is currently investigating the incident as a “possible bias incident.” The department released an image of the white male suspect that was captured by a bystander and is asking for the public’s help in identifying him. Anyone with information about the incident can call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).
According to the most recent FBI hate crimes data, 17 percent of hate crime victims in the U.S. in 2016 were targeted because of their sexual orientation, and most of those victims were gay men.