St. Lucia decries attack on 3 gay US tourists

Michael Baker, left, and Nick Smith

 

GUY ELLIS | Associated Press

CASTRIES, St. Lucia — A robbery and assault on three gay American tourists at their vacation cottage has St. Lucia officials scrambling to assure visitors that the southern Caribbean island is safe and welcoming for LGBT tourists.

Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet issued an apology Monday to three men from Atlanta after masked bandits broke into their mountain rental home in Soufriere. One victim said the gunmen made slurs against gays, white people and Americans during the March 3 assault.

The tiny, tourism-dependent Caribbean country is typically peaceful and a safe place for all kinds of travelers, Chastanet said.

He said the attack was “unacceptable behavior and our destination will not tolerate it.”

Police announced Monday that they have arrested two suspects in the assault and are looking for three more.

This former British territory is not known as a risky place for gays, particularly compared with other, socially conservative Caribbean islands where many gays are not open about their sexuality.

Nonetheless, a victim who detailed his account of the robbery on Facebook said he believes the attack was “partly a gay bashing.”

Michael Baker said he and his companion, Nick Smith, were showering when they heard their friend Todd Wiggins scream in another part of the home. When Baker stepped out of the bathroom, he saw masked men beating Wiggins.

Baker said the armed bandits ultimately beat all three and tied them up.

“They began to tell us that they hated white people. They hated (gays),” Baker wrote. “They told us they had been watching us, and they hated us, and wanted us off the island. They said they would kill us if we did not leave.”

After the attackers left, the men freed themselves, hiked down the mountain and were helped by some British tourists, Baker said.

Police said the robbers took about $1,800 in cash and some personal items. One of the men was treated for minor injuries at a hospital, and they all left St. Lucia soon after.

Baker did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent through Facebook, and phone calls to Atlanta phone listings under that name were not returned.

On his profile page, Baker said he and his friends will struggle with memories of the assault.

“I don’t know the full motivation that drove these five men, but I do know that I can feel pity for them,” he said.

—  John Wright

Victim knocked out, shot fired into air during robbery near Cedar Springs strip early Saturday

A man was knocked unconscious and a gunshot was fired into the air early Saturday during a violent robbery just a few blocks from the Cedar Springs strip, according to Dallas police reports.

The two victims were walking home at about 1:30 a.m. in an alley between Throckmorton and Knight streets when two Latino males came up behind them, pulled out guns and demanded money, the reports say.

One of the men ran out of the alley onto Knight Street between Hall and Rawlins streets, yelling for someone to call police. One of the gunmen briefly chased the man and fired a shot into the air as he ducked behind a car.

Meanwhile, after the second victim handed over some cash, the other suspect hit him in the face with his pistol and demanded his wallet. The victim fell to the ground and the suspect got on top of him and took his wallet. Then both suspects pistol-whipped the man in the head until he blacked out.

The victim regained consciousness and was able to walk out of the alley toward his home on Knight Street. He was taken to Parkland hospital with cuts and bruises on his head and face.

The suspects were still at large.

—  John Wright