From left, , Frank Macias, Miguel Macias, Kolby Monell and Quinn OConnor
D.A. says she’ll add hate crimes charges, ask for enhanced penalties
DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer
Four men were arrested in Austin this week and charged with two counts each of aggravated assault in connection with an attack on two gay men in January. District Attorney Margaret Moore said at a press conference Wednesday, Feb. 13, that she has enough evidence to upgrade the charge to a first degree felony with hate crime enhancements.
Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry were attacked after they left Rain, a gay bar at the corner of Third Street and Congress Avenue, after 2 a.m. on Jan. 19.
A man approached the couple, who were holding hands, and used a homophobic slur. When Perry verbally defended himself, a group of four men surrounded them.
One of the men punched him and he fell to the sidewalk. The group began to punch and kick him.
When Deehring came to Perry’s defense, the group assaulted him, too. A witness stepped in and called police.
Both Deehring and Perry were hospitalized with injuries that included concussions, fractured nose, bruised eye socket, neck injuries, cuts and bruises.
Surveillance cameras recorded the attack.
Police took one of the assailants, Frank Macias, 22, into custody on Monday, Feb. 11, after receiving a tip through Crime Stoppers. Deehring and the witness then identified Macias in a lineup.
In a confession to police, Macias implicated his brother, Miguel Macias, 20, as well as Quinn O’Connor, 21, and Kolby Monell. They were arrested on Tuesday.
Each is being held $300,000 bail — $150,000 for each of the two counts.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said her office will pursue hate crime charges. She explained that would require proving hate as a motive separately from the defendants’ commission of the crime. But she believes she has enough evidence.
Hate crime charges enhance penalties by increasing the charge of aggravated assault from a second degree to a first degree felony.
Since the attack, about 60 people have formed a group called Rainbow Patrol. On Saturday nights from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m., members of the Rainbow Patrol have been walking the streets of downtown Austin in neon purple reflective harnesses.
At the press conference announcing the arrests, Assistant Police Chief Ely Reyes, asked about the Rainbow Patrol, said, “The community is our eyes and ears out there.”
Speaking directly to the couple, Reyes told them that Austin police take their case very seriously and that hate crimes in the city will not be tolerated.
On Facebook, Deehring said the couple would like some privacy over the next few weeks while they are recovering. “The brain heals slowly, and we’re beginning to understand that after many hospital visits and scans,” he wrote.
The four men charged in the attack each face sentences of five to 99 years.