Two men have been arrested in connection with an assault on a gay man during a party Saturday evening in northern Minnesota.
Max Pelofske, 21, of Duluth, says he was beaten by at least nine men at the graduation party for a friend’s sister, held at an abandoned gravel pit in New Independence Township, the Duluth News Tribune reports. He told the paper that a man who was a stranger to him asked, “Are you gay?” and he responded, “Yes. Is that OK?”
“After that, Pelofske said he was struck in the head by a flying beer can, and a crowd of young men surrounded him, threw him to the ground and began punching and kicking him,” the News Tribune reports. Pelofske was taken to a hospital and examined, but although he is bruised and sore, he did not suffer serious injuries. The hospital staff “told me I was very lucky,” he said.
One witness gave a different account of the altercation, saying Pelofske started it by stealing drinks, but another witness countered that. Sgt. Brent Donahue of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department called the case “an open investigation,” with the incident not yet classified as a hate crime. “After they’re arraigned and charged, the assault charge should show whether it's a crime of bias,” he said.
The paper did not publish the names of the two men arrested, age 18 and 19, because they have yet to be formally charged. Pending charges against the 19-year-old are fourth-degree assault, which is a bias crime, and possession of marijuana. Information on pending charges against the 18-year-old was not available.