Hate crime survivor ends year as new dad

Posted on 25 Dec 2015 at 7:35am

Burke Burnett, left, holds his son Caleb, 10 months, who is intent on pulling the hat off his new baby brother, Cody, held by Burnett’s husband, Justin Carrier. Cody was born Sunday, Dec. 20.


DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

Burke Burnett and Justin Carrier end 2015 by becoming new dads for the second time this year. New son Cody was born on Dec. 20. His older brother is just 10 months and three days older.

Burnett and Carrier met in 2012 and were married in November 2014. They found out they were going to be dads for the first time on the way home from their honeymoon, Carrier said.

The couple had both sons through private adoption.

After Caleb was born in February, Burnett said, they weren’t planning to have another right away.

But they received a call from the adoption agency over the summer and the couple said the connection with the second mother a “perfect match,” even though, Carrier noted, “That was faster than we planned.”

They have accompanied the birth mom to every medical appointment since the fifth month of the pregnancy.

Cody was born healthy and went home with Burnett and Carrier on Tuesday, Dec. 22, two days after he was born.

Burnett, seriously injured in an anti-gay hate crime near Paris, Texas in 2011, is a cofounder of the new support group for survivors of violent crime: SOS-Survivors Offering Support.

Four years ago, Burnett was at a party when he was attacked by three men who stabbed and beat him with a broken beer bottle, then threw him onto a fire and left him to die.

The three men were arrested, convicted and are serving time in prison.

Burnett’s story went from local to regional as Dallas Voice and other local media picked it up. Burnett credits Dallas media calls to Paris police for getting the attackers arrested and prosecuted with hate crime enhancements.

Despite the closure Burnett described at having his attackers arrested and the crime prosecuted, he said the year after the attack was a dark time for him. He recovered, first physically and then mentally. And rather than stay in Paris, Burnett moved to Dallas, where he met Carrier.

Four years after the attack, Burnett had moved on in his life. He and Carrier were married in November 2014, and three months later, in February 2015, Caleb was born.

Then in September this year, on the same day as the Dallas Pride parade, Blake Rasnake was attacked in Oak Lawn by a group of men hurling anti-gay epithets and wielding a baseball bat. Less than two weeks later, Michael Dominguez was attacked on Cedar Springs Road.

In hearing the news of these attacks, Burnett relived his own nightmare.

Burnett decided to attend a meeting with police that took place at Resource Center early in October. That’s where he met Rasnake and Dominguez. As the attacks on gay men in Oak Lawn continued, the three survivors decided to step up and offer support to other victims.

Thinking back on his own experience, Burnett wanted to make sure the current survivors knew they’d get through the trauma. He wanted to offer some guidance he never got.

The Texas Crime Victims Services division of the state Attorney General’s office helps survivors with hospital bills and other expenses that result from an assault, but, Burnett said, he procrastinated about filing for compensation. He wants to make sure current victims receive the assistance and encouragement they need to have their hospital stays — that in at least one case resulted in a day in an ICU unit — covered.

As the attacks have continued, Burnett continues offering his shoulder to those who’ve needed it.

In December, SOS met for the first time to allow those affected by the recent violence in Oak Lawn and others who’ve survived violent crime to get together, share their experiences and talk with other people who understand their situation.

But for this week, Burnett isn’t thinking about violent crime. He’s thinking about the responsibility of raising his second son.

So what do Burnett and Carrier have planned for the new year? More kids in the near future?

“I think we’re going to chill out for a little bit,” Burnett said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 25, 2015.

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