El Paso police say they’ve been unable to determine whether a brutal beating outside a gay nightclub early Saturday was a hate crime because the victim remains unconscious. Detective Mike Baranyay, a spokesman for the police department, told Instant Tea that the 22-year-old victim suffered a serious head injury in the attack. The victim was punched, kicked and hit with a baseball bat by six attackers outside the Old Plantation nightclub, where he’d been waiting for a ride.
“He’s got pretty critical injuries,” Baranyay said this afternoon. “At this point we can’t confirm that it’s a hate crime or it’s not. Hopefully by tomorrow we’ll have some idea.”
Although police say don’t know whether the attack was a hate crime, the victim’s sister told KTSM-TV that even though her brother is not gay, she believes it was:
We spoke with the victim’s sister, Deanne Martinez, this morning at UMC where her brother is still listed in critical condition.
Martinez was there Saturday night and witnessed the attack. “He was on the floor laying there knocked out and they still kept bashing his head with a bat. That to me is so cowardly.”
Martinez says she and another family member tried to stop the attack but the men turned on them. “I was trying to pull out my brother and she was pushing off the guys. They ended up bashing her Jeep Liberty.”
So far police say they have no evidence to call the attack a hate crime. Martinez calls that ridiculous.
She says her brother isn’t gay but he was alone outside of a gay club and the men who attacked him made it clear why they picked him.
Martinez said, “They were yelling gay slurs and yelling their gang name or where they’re from.”
Martinez also told us this isn’t the first time she’s heard of that same group of men harassing people in the area.
She hopes someone comes forward with information about who these guys are. “I want these guys to be caught. Because this was a brutal and heartless crime.”
Baranyay told Instant Tea there had been no arrests in the case as of this afternoon. He also said he doesn’t believe anti-gay violence is a problem in El Paso.
“We’re a very tolerant community,” he said. “People pretty much leave each other alone in this town.”