A gay man was the victim of what he says was an antigay hate crime while riding the Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line train Friday, reports local TV station WMAQ.
Ryan McCarthy, a Chicago native, says he simply sat down next to another male passenger on the commuter train Friday night, but then the man launched into a violent assault.
McCarthy says he did not make eye contact with the man, nor come into physical contact with him before the abuse began. But when he was shoved off his seat, the assailant reportedly told McCarthy that "no gays should sit next to him."
"It was so hateful, such a hate crime," McCarthy told WMAQ. "All I did was sit next to this passenger on this train. Immediately he pushed me off and started punching me in the face."
"He continued to punch me in the face and then it wasn't until other passengers created a barrier between me and him that he actually stopped,” McCarthy added.
A witness to the assault told the local station that he was "scared for [himself] and everyone else on the train." Some passengers tried to restrain the assailant, the witness added.
McCarthy snapped a few photos of his alleged assailant as the man departed the train at Clark and Division streets. The Chicago Police and CTA are working in tandem to find the suspect, reports WMAQ.
The CTA issued a statement stressing that "incidents of battery on our system are extremely rare," pledging that the organization takes every reported incident seriously, and is cooperating with Chicago police to apprehend the assailant.
Police have not yet indicated if the attack will be investigated as a hate crime, though the Illinois Hate Crimes Act does explicitly mention attacks based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, according to LGBT group Equality Illinois.
Watch WMAQ's report below.