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Two men have been arrested in connection with an attack early Sunday on a gay pedestrian in Boulder, Colo., while assailants of a lesbian last month remained at large and Boulder's top officials condemned hate violence they called "extremely troublesome" to their college town.
University of Colorado student Eric Schorling, 21, was arrested Monday on charges of third-degree assault and bias-motivated crime in connection with the attack, while Adam Perez, also 21, was arrested on charges of second-degree assault and bias-motivated crime.
Police say the two men, reportedly drunk and shouting antigay slurs, confronted Justin King, 23, who was walking arm in arm after midnight with his friend Anthony Loose. King ignored the first comment but turned to confront the men when a second comment was made, the Boulder Daily Camera reported.
The suspects are accused of shoving King, then getting him in a headlock and trying to kick him in the face. King's eyeglasses were broken as a crowd, more or less evenly divided between gay and antigay sympathies, gathered to watch.
"I felt like I couldn't swallow, couldn't talk," King told Fox 31 News.
Loose, 18, escaped, while King extricated himself and threw a punch of his own, blackening his accused assailant's eye.
Loose told Denver's Rocky Mountain News Tuesday that King is "not really hurt" and is doing "great."
"The common stereotype is that if one gay guy fights two straight guys, the straight guys are going to win," he told the paper. "But Justin surprised a lot of people."
Schorling and Perez "may have already learned their lesson," Loose said.
"I'm sure they have opinions about homosexuals. But if people could just learn to keep their opinions--opinions they know are going to offend other people--to themselves."
The slugfest was the latest in what city officials called an uncharacteristic spate of violence, each incident apparently unrelated except for the hate component.
The day before King was jumped, a mixed-race man was seriously beaten six blocks away by assailants yelling racial and anti-Jewish slurs. On February 20 a woman attending Boulder's Naropa University was badly beaten by two men in her apartment after she told them she was a lesbian.
Boulder mayor Mark Ruzzin and city manager Frank Bruno said in a joint statement Monday that "these shameful acts do not represent the values of our city.
"An attack on a community member for any reason, including sexual orientation, race or any other bias, threatens the feeling of safety and security within Boulder's diverse populations and will not be tolerated," the officials said in a statement on the city's Web site.
Boulder typically sees three to four hate crimes in a year, a police spokeswoman told the Daily Camera. Some officials lay partial blame on unseasonably warm weather that has young people out on the streets and drinking.
Deputy Mayor Suzy Ageton told the Rocky Mountain News that the Boulder city council is expected to discuss the crimes this week or next.
"We're going to see if we should have a larger community effort of some kind to talk about this," Ageton told the paper. "It's horrifying to all of us to have these kinds of events in our community."
Boulder officials urge anyone with information to call city police at (303) 441-3330 or CrimeStoppers at (800) 222-TIPS or (800) 444-3776. (The Advocate)