Witnesses say attackers who jumped a man in Philadelphia shouted gay slurs as they hit their victims. It comes as neighbors report an increase in such assaults in a part of Center City known as the gayborhood.
Philadelphia police continue to investigate a violent attack that occurred Sunday, according to local TV station WTVI. The crime happened about 11 p.m. outside the Toasted Walnut Bar & Kitchen, a gay bar on Walnut Street in the heart of the Midtown Village.
"All of a sudden a car full of guys decided to jump out and attack one of the patrons here right in front," said Josh Schonewolf, a bartender at the Toasted Walnut.
Police say four men and woman attacked a 50-year-old man, who has not been identified. The victim had to be treated at a hospital for head injuries. The suspects fled the scene. Witnesses said several bystanders stepped into the altercation as well. Schonewolf said the bar's manager was hit in the face during the disruption.
Schonewolf also said antigay slurs were shouted. "It seemed random, but they were definitely calling him some gay slurs as they were beating him up," he told the TV station.
Police have not said whether the attack will be investigated as a hate crime. Amber Hikes, executive director of the Philadelphia Mayor's Office of LGBT Affairs, put out a statement that also stepped around that issue for now.
"We're working closely with the police department, victim services, witnesses, and business owners in the area to determine what transpired," the statement reads.
WTVI reports that social media mentions of the attack confirm the gay slurs, and also say a similar attack happened Saturday in the same neighborhood.
That this happens in a district populated with LGBTQ-catering establishments has already created fear in the community.
"Some people refer to this part of town as Midtown Village, but to me -- I'm from Philly -- it is always going to be the Gayborhood," Schonewolf said. "And if this is happening at 13th and Walnut, I don't know where we're supposed to feel safe," he said.