NYC Gay Man Brutally Assaulted by Six Teens
A New York man was so severely beaten by a gang of about six teens that he required $100,000 worth of surgery to repair the damage--a sum well beyond his means to pay, since he is without insurance.
Advocate.com reported on March 18 that Barie Shortell of Brooklyn needed 10 hours’ worth of surgical attention following the brutal Feb. 22 bashing, which took place in Brooklyn gayborhood Williamsburg.
The Advocate story, drawing on an account in local publication The Brooklyn Paper, said that Shortell was about a block away from his home when he came across the gang of six teens. The youths shouted anti-gay taunts at him, and Shortell went out of his way to avoid trouble, crossing the street. But the youths came after him, threw him against the side of building, and launched into an assault so vicious that one surgeon compared the damage Shortell suffered to the aftermath of a car crash.
"Oh shit, is that a guy or a girl?" one teen called prior to the attack, The Brooklyn Paper reported. Shortell recalled hearing the comment, and thinking that it was "juvenile." He also remembered crossing the street to avoid confrontation, but he could not recall details of the beating itself.
The injuries Shortell suffered told the story. Surgeons put three metal plates on Shortell’s skull, the article said, and tended to his broken jaw. Shortell’s eye sockets were shattered and his nose broken.
"I feel pretty confident they perceived me as a gay man and attacked me, but I can’t understand why they did what they did," Shortell said. "I looked horrible. Blood was everywhere."
The Advocate article noted that a similarly vicious attack took the life of straight New York teenager Anthony Collao, who was reportedly mistaken for gay by a gang that crashed a party in Queens on March 12.
Four young men invaded a party attended by Collao that was hosted by two gay men. The invaders reportedly broke windows, scrawled on the walls with red markers, and made hand gestures associated with gangs. The men also reportedly attacked and beat Collao while hurling anti-gay epithets, media accounts said.
Collao reportedly tried to avoid violence by leaving the party, but the gang chased him down, threw him up against a car, and pummeled him mercilessly. Collao was reportedly punched, kicked, and stomped, and beaten with a pipe.
Four suspects were later placed under arrest. One of the young men was wearing Collao’s baseball cap, and the other three were drenched with blood. One suspect, Alex Velez, is 16, and lives in the Bronx; the other three, identified as Christopher Lozada, Nolis Ogando, and Luis Tabales, are from Queens and are 17 years old.
Collao was on life support until March 14, when he died in the hospital. The young man’s parents operate an ice cream establishment in Queens, though the family lives on Long Island. A neighbor said that Collao was "a very respectful, very friendly, very handsome young man," the article reported.
A Grim Trend
The attacks on Collao and Shortell are far from being isolated instances of anti-gay violence. Several apparently bias-driven attacks have taken place in Queens recently. Last December, two young men pled guilty to an attack on a gay man whom he and another suspect robbed and beat in 2009 outside of a deli.
Daniel Aleman, 27, and Daniel Rodriguez, 22, carried out the assault on 50-year-old Jack Price early in the morning on Oct. 8, 2009. The attackers shouted anti-gay epithets as they punched and kicked Price, delivering a beating so severe that the older man spent weeks in the hospital with serious injuries, including a broken jaw, a punctured lung, and a lacerated spleen. The two attackers also stole Price’s wallet. Aleman addressed the court at his Dec. 13, 2009 sentencing, saying that he was drunk at the time of the attack and robbery.
"I’m very sorry for what I did," said Aleman, who had pleaded guilty to charges of robbery as a hate crime, and received the sentence of eight years plus five years of supervision after his prison term on Dec. 13. "I was drunk and I was under the influence," Aleman added. "I made a very big mistake."
Rodriguez similarly pleaded guilty.
The attack sparked a rally against hate crimes in Queens on Oct. 17, 2009, an earlier EDGE article reported. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, among other political figures, attended the rally, which was organized by openly gay schoolteacher Danny Dromm, now a member of the New York City Council.
The EDGE article noted that a series of anti-gay attacks had taken place in Queens prior to the beating Price suffered. "Trinidad Tapia and Gilberto Ortiz allegedly beat Leslie Mora with a belt buckle as she walked home from a Jackson Heights nightclub in June" of 2009, the article reported. "And Nathaniel Mims and Rasheed Thomas face hate crimes charges after they allegedly attacked Carmella Etienne with rocks and empty beer bottles on July 8 as she walked home from a store near her St. Albans apartment."
The article also cited the fatal attack in Brooklyn in late 2008. Two men attacked a heterosexual Ecuadorian immigrant, José Sucuzhañay, because they mistook him for a gay man.
The wave of anti-gay hate crimes that has swept New York in recent years prompted Sharon Stapel, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, to point to hate speech directed at gays and other minorities. Such speech is especially acute in election years, and a corresponding rise in bias-motivated violence reportedly accompanies politically motivated hate speech.