Efosa Agbontaen and
Branden McGillvery-Dummett expected a good scare when they
decided to see a horror film in Manhattan one recent night, but
they hardly imagined they would be confronted with the fright
of their lives. The couple allege that four male teenagers
spewing antigay slurs attacked them with glass bottles and a
box cutter on February 15, following harassment that management
failed to address during a screening of
Friday the 13th
at the Regal Union Square Stadium 14.
McGillvery-Dummett, who live in the Far Rockaway section
of Queens, sustained minor injuries, including cuts
and bruises to the face and head, that were treated at a local
hospital. The New York City Police Department is investigating
the attack as a hate crime, given the apparent catalyst of the
victims' sexual orientation.
"It all comes down to
the motivation," said Lt. Mike Wysokowsi, an NYPD spokesman,
who declined to discuss details of the ongoing investigation.
"Why is something happening to a person?"
Although the attack
occurred about a block from the popular multiplex in Union
Square after the film ended, Agbontaen says the suspects
targeted him and his boyfriend as soon as the lights went down
in the crowded auditorium.
"We had a
mini-argument over the cell phone while the previews were
happening," he said. "You can tell when the people having
an argument are a couple. There's a chemistry."
he says, they sensed disturbances from the row behind them near
the front of the theater.
"They were saying
'faggot' and kicking the chair," said Agbontaen, who turned
and asked the rambunctious quartet to stop, to no avail. "It
continued over and over and over."
Agbontaen went to alert
the manager, who arrived to evaluate the situation with an
usher just as two of the teenagers moved to other seats. The
manager concluded that everything was under control, though
McGillvery-Dummett insists he tried to indicate otherwise.
"I was gesturing him
to come," he said. "I was telling him where they were. He
just looked and walked out."
McGillvery-Dummett left the auditorium to notify the manager
again. He says he explained clearly that he and his boyfriend
were being threatened with antigay remarks.
"He looked at me and
said there was nothing he could do," McGillvery-Dummett
recalls. "He rolled his eyes, and he fanned me down. He
walked away while I was talking."
returned to his seat, where for the remainder of the film
things were calm, if anxious.
"You can't be
comfortable when people have been saying things like that,"
says Agbontaen. "Your head is in another place."
Once the movie
finished, the young men resumed their taunts. They surrounded
Agbontaen and McGillvery-Dummett on the escalator, and called
them "homos" and "snitches."
"I told them, 'I'm a
grown man, I don't have time for you,'" says Agbontaen, who
is 20. "One of the guys said, 'If you're so grown, meet me
McGillvery-Dummett say they ignored the challenge and felt
relieved to see their tormenters exit the theater in the
opposite direction. But moments later the group caught up with
them on 14th Street between University Place and Fifth Avenue,
carrying glass bottles and what appeared to be a box
One of the attackers
struck McGillvery-Dummett, 24, in the head with a glass bottle,
rendering him nearly unconscious. Agbontaen's face was sliced
with the box cutter, creating a bloody sight that seemed to
startle the assailants, who halted the attack and fled.
The four suspects,
still at large, are described as being between the ages of 14
and 16, with medium builds. The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force
continues to investigate.
While his injuries
healed rapidly, McGillver-Dummett says the experience left him
with deeper, lingering doubts.
"To tell you the
truth," he says, "my sexuality was not something I was
totally comfortable with before this. It kind of makes me
retreat a little."
A spokesman for Regal
Entertainment Group, which operates the Regal Union Square
Stadium 14, said the Knoxville, TN-based company is undertaking
an internal assessment of what took place at the theater.
"We are conducting an
investigation, and any incident of this nature warrants and has
and will receive our undivided attention," said Dick
Westerling, senior vice president for marketing. "We have
been engaged with our management and staff to investigate this
Westerling defended the
initial evaluation of the manager on duty that evening.
"According to our
managers, they discussed it with the gentleman who complained,
and he said they were comfortable and would continue to watch
the movie," Westerling said.
He offered no immediate
comment about the victims' second appeal to management, which
allegedly involved the dismissive eye roll.
challenged claims that the attackers were underage and allowed
into an R-rated film because one of them was related to a
theater employee, as the victims believe they overheard. He
said the Union Square location has never experienced a problem
of this sort before.
McGillvery-Dummett find the explanations inadequate thus
"We want the kids to
be caught," says Agbontaen, "We would like the theater to
take responsibility. They should have done something about