Three teenagers have been arrested for their suspected involvement in an attack on a gay couple in Washington, D.C., early Sunday morning.
“The case is still under investigation, and sexual orientation is being investigated as a motivation,” Alaina Gertz, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Department, told NBC News.
The suspects include Marcus Britt, 19, and two juvenile males, ages 15 and 16, according to a statement released by the department. The three suspects, all from Fort Washington, Maryland, were charged with robbery by force and violence after allegedly assaulting at least one of the victims and fleeing with his property.
One of the victims, Karl Craven, wrote about the attack on a GoFundMe page, stating that he and his boyfriend — whom he did not name — encountered the suspects when they stopped to talk to each other while walking from Hawthorne’s restaurant to Nellie’s, a popular gay sports bar.
“He was leaning against me and a few guys started yelling ‘faggot’ at him and started to swing at him,” Craven wrote. “It was all a quick blur but next thing you know there was literally a mob of 15 guys beating him. They came out of nowhere and I was powerless to stop them, all I could do was jump on him to try to protect him and scream help.”
Craven said he didn’t remember how long the attack lasted, but that the group stole his wallet and his boyfriend’s phone. They also left his boyfriend with serious injuries, including a chipped tooth and a busted lip that required “multiple stitches.”
Craven posted pictures that show his boyfriend with a black eye and a bloody gauze over his swollen lips.
““He doesn’t have insurance and can’t afford the ER and tooth repair bills,” Craven wrote on his fundraising page. “Any help would be greatly appreciated.”
As of Monday afternoon, the campaign had raised more than $7,000 toward its $10,000 goal.
Craven, who did not respond to requests for additional information, posted an update on the campaign page Sunday night.
“DC Police LGBT Liaison Unit just visited us to see how we are doing,” he wrote, noting that multiple arrests have been made in the case.
Gertz of the Metropolitan Police Department confirmed that Lt. Brett Parson, who oversees the unit, is “working on the case.”
Anti-LGBTQ hate crimes rose 3 percent nationally in 2017, according to the FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics report. Since 2014, the total number of bias incidents targeting individuals for their sexual orientation or gender identities has increased each year. Hate crimes targeting individuals for their gender identity or sexual orientation accounted for approximately half of D.C.’s total hate crimes in 2018, according to The Washington Post.
In the past year, multiple attacks against gay men have been recorded around the U Street area in D.C., which is popular with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. Last September, two gay men were beaten by a violent group using homophobic slurs, and in April 2018, two other gay men were hospitalized following an assault.
David Mariner, the executive director of The DC Center for LGBT Equality, which is located on 14th Street and U Street, said violence against LGBTQ people is not restricted to that specific area.
“We’ve seen a citywide increase in hate crimes, and U Street, which is an LGBT-friendly part of the district, is not an exception,” Mariner said.
Zoe Spears, a transgender woman, was shot and killed Thursday night in Fairmount Heights, a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. — just four blocks from where another transgender woman, Ashanti Carmon, was murdered in March.
“Folks are encouraged to reach out to us,” Mariner said. “We offer group and individual counseling. We’re sad we have to offer these resources, but we’re glad we’re in a position to help people in the community get the resources they need.”