Police are searching for the attacker of a gay World War II veteran.
Rupert "Twink" Starr, 97, was robbed Monday in Columbus, Ohio, during an afternoon stroll. Just beforehand, the former soldier and LGBTQ+ activist had been asked for a dollar by a panhandler.
When Starr, feeling charitable due to the current health crisis, gave it to the man, the assailant tried to take his wallet. Starr "put up a fight," but the man wrestled his wallet away and pushed him to the ground. He fled, and the wallet was found empty nearby.
“The man walks with two canes. He’s doing the best he can physically just to even be out and mobile, so the fact that someone has that type of behavior and has that type of cruelty in their heart to still go out and assault someone after they give them something is truly reprehensible,” Sgt. James Fuqua of the Columbus Division of Police told WSYX, a local ABC affiliate.
Starr was not seriously hurt in the attack.
Police are searching for a suspect as well as a second person of interest. Fuqua is urging anyone with information related to the crime, which occurred Monday at 5:05 p.m. on the 600 block of Neil Avenue, to contact Columbus police at (614) 645-4545. Images of the suspect (above, right) from surveillance footage can be viewed in the WSYX report.
Fuqua is also asking the public to be more cautious.
“You think you’re doing a good deed by helping them but in this particular situation, but as you can see it escalated very quickly, and he could’ve potentially lost his life over a dollar,” Fuqua said.
According to Stonewall Columbus, Starr enlisted in the military in 1945 and was assigned to 101st Infantry Division as a second lieutenant. He went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, which resulted in an Allied victory that was a major turning point in the war, and later survived German prison camps.
Stateside, the Ohio native established a successful career in real estate and went on to fall in love with Allan Wingfield; they spent 53 years together before Wingfield's passing in 2007. He also became an LGBTQ+ activist; his appearance in the 2004 video "Courage Under Fire" influenced the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." In 2009, he served as grand marshal of the Stonewall Columbus Pride Parade.
Hear Starr tell his story below.