A New York City woman has six stitches and needs a cane to walk after she and her mom were attacked by fellow restaurant patrons who yelled antigay slurs at them. Their attackers apparently mistook the mother and daughter for lesbians on a date as they ate dinner at a Manhattan restaurant, TV station WCBS reported Thursday.
Tiffany Santiago, 27, told the New York Daily News, "As soon as I sat down I heard the word 'lesbian,'" and speculated that because she and her mother look close in age, and she wears her hair short, the three suspects may have thought they were on a date.
Police told the paper that during the incident, which detectives are investigating as a hate crime, Santiago was dragged across the floor of the East Side Korean restaurant by her legs after being pelted with lime wedges and balled napkins.
Describing the suspects, police told the Daily News they are searching for two women and one man, who can be seen in the video from WCBS below.
Santiago told the paper that the male suspect stripped and assaulted her: "As I’m fighting to get to my mom, he pulls down my shirt. [The woman with dirty-blond hair] pushes me out of the way and then he throws me across the room.
"I’m now bleeding, my top is half off, and I get up and I can see he’s punching my mom in the arm and his girlfriend is on top of her.”
Santiago needed six stitches to close the wound on her knee, and according to the Daily News, her mother also suffered cuts and bruises in the melee.
Most would consider New York City a haven for LGBT people and statistics show hate crimes against gays and lesbians have declined in recent years. Still, Santiago's mother, who did not disclose her name or sexual orientation to the paper, stressed that the incident was extremely upsetting.
"I have bruises all over. I had cuts all over my back from the cracked beer bottles," she told the paper, explaining that she fell on shards of glass when she was shoved.
"I don't feel safe. This happened in a nice area. These were adults. Now I'm looking everywhere. I'm afraid," she said.
Watch the report from WCBS below.