Two teenagers in
were attacked by a group of young males hurling homophobic epithets at them. One stepped in to protect his boyfriend and was punched, leaving him with a mild concussion and swelling of the brain.
Last Friday, Christian Peacock and Jacob Metcalf were standing at the end of Peacock's driveway in Sandy, a Salt Lake City suburb, hugging and chatting quietly as they bid a long goodbye.
Then an Infiniti rolled slowly past with five young male occupants in it. One in the group yelled out of the window, "F**k you, faggots," Peacock told
Salt Lake Tribune
. The car then sped away.
About 45 minutes later, the vehicle returned, and two occupants advanced on Peacock and his boyfriend, according to Sandy police.
Peacock and Metcalf said one person walked toward them, saying he didn't like seeing gay people on his street. The young man took off his shirt and baited the couple, asking, "Do we turn you on?" Metcalf told the
The man walked up to Metcalf and pushed him while three people in the car laughed.
Peacock moved between his boyfriend and the man and shouted, "Get out of here." Peacock then suggested the assailant might be gay himself and acting out because of it.
The shirtless youth then punched Peacock hard in the jaw. Paramedics responded and took him an emergency room for treatment. He was diagnosed with a concussion and brain swelling. He has been having memory issues since the attack, he added.
Peacock's sister Jocelynn, 19, discovered and confronted the attacker, who was arrested by Sandy police a day later, Salt Lake City TV station
reports. She had taken pictures and video of the incident, which she shared on social media, and she invited the accused attacker and his family to the Peacock home, where she had police waiting nearby.
\u201c\ud83d\udea8\ud83d\udea8 Sandy, UT - A gay young man was hugging his boyfriend in front of his home. The young men in this Infiniti stopped and the one person punched the kid in the face while calling him a \u201cfa**ot.\u201d We need to identify this assailant. Contact Sandy, UT police. \u26a0\ufe0fLanguage\u26a0\ufe0f\u201d
— Rainbow Youth Project USA (@Rainbow Youth Project USA)
Sandy Police Sgt. Greg Moffitt told the station that youth justice would handle the case. The alleged attacker, whose name was not revealed because he is a minor, is charged with assault with a hate-crime enhancement. The enhancement could lead to jail time, Moffitt said.
"This actually fits in as a hate crime. When you're targeting someone's sexual preference, their religion, the color of their skin, or ethnic background, those all can be considered a hate crime," he told the station.
"We want people to know that there's no room for this in Sandy," he added. "If you attack somebody, based on solely existing for who they are as a human, we're going to pursue that as the hate crime that it is."
Peacock and Metcalf went bowling and ate at an Italian restaurant on their first official date May 4, Peacock told the
. Metcalf, who came out as gay at 18, said he hasn't encountered much homophobia.
Peacock, however, lost friends after coming out at 14 and was the subject of slurs at his high school. He became president of his school's gay-straight alliance to fight back.
The attack, he said, "made me take a step back and realize this happens to a lot of people in our community, the
community. And we need to talk about it more."