Plano police now say they’re treating an aggravated assault outside the Plano Sports Authority last weekend as an anti-gay hate crime.
The mother of the 18-year-old male victim told Instant Tea this week that her son was leaving the Plano Sports Authority, a public recreation center, with his two lesbian friends on Sunday when two men approached them. The men made comments about the teen’s friends holding hands, then kicked and beat him with a gun when he defended them. The victim told Instant Tea he didn’t want to comment on the incident or be identified.
David Tilley, a spokesman for the Plano Police Department, confirmed the mother’s account on Friday and said what were initially described as “rude comments” in an online crime bulletin were actually “derogatory sexually-oriented comments” toward the lesbian couple.
Tilley said while he doesn’t know what exactly was said by the suspects, they asked if the two girls were lesbians and may have said other things when the teen intervened to get them to leave his friends alone. He said the victim and his friends are cooperating with police, leading investigators to suspect a hate crime occurred.
“There was enough concern to believe that this could be classified as a hate crime,” Tilley said. “So we are looking into this as a hate crime.”
According to the FBI’s online “Hate Crimes Statistics” reports, the incident would be the first reported anti-gay hate crime in Plano since at least 2005, if not ever.
The mother of the victim, whose name is being withheld to protect her son’s identity, told Instant Tea she was concerned that police weren’t handling the situation properly. She said police initially told her to not file a report.
Tilley said it’s likely that police told the mother she could not file a report because her son, at 18, is an adult and must file it himself. Tilley said police were called to the hospital an hour after the attack occurred. After talking to the teen, who needed several stitches for cuts to his face, Tilley said police were on top of the case, investigating the scene and issuing a patrol alert for two black men in the area.
Police have since obtained a better description of the two men after talking with the teen and his two friends at length.
One is described as 18-25 years old, 6’0”-6’2”, about 180 pounds, with a medium build, and brown hair in dreadlocks with orange highlights. He also has a tattoo on his left forearm. The other man is described as 17-20 years old, 5’9”-5’11”, about 170 pounds, with a medium build and short black hair styled into an “afro.”
Jeanne Rubin, vice president of the Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said she and CCGLA President Bob Shimmin met with the Plano police chief Friday afternoon. Shimmin had emailed the chief and mayor about the incident to get more information, and the chief scheduled a meeting, Rubin said.
At the meeting, she said the chief explained that the aggravated assault is a top priority because it happened in the middle of the afternoon and involved a gun in a public place. They also discussed Plano’s protocol in responding to and reporting hate crimes.
“We have a longstanding relationship with the Plano police,” Rubin said. “So the police chief has always been an ally … he takes hate crimes very seriously.”
Rubin said she felt good about the meeting and looked forward to updates from police, who hope to catch the men responsible soon.