Boyfriends Rene Chalarca and Dimitri Lugonov told police they were savagely attacked by a group of men after they shared a hug while waiting to use a restroom at Lumus Park in the 500 block of Ocean Drive during Miami Beach’s Gay Pride parade, reports WPLG-TV.
According to the police report, one of the attackers yelled a homophobic slur in Spanish before hitting them several times.
Police said the couple suffered cuts and bruises on their faces and were treated by paramedics at the scene. A bystander who saw the attack and tried to intervene was pushed to the ground and suffered a cut to the back of his head. He was taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center for treatment.
Chalarca and Lugonov believe they were targeted because they are gay.
“We were together. So for me, it’s like, yes, it was a hate crime,” Chalarca said.
Surveillance cameras recorded the attack and provided police with clear images of the unnamed suspects, one wearing a Florida International University T-shirt.
Police are investigating the attack as a possible hate crime.
“For me, the way we were dressed and everything and we were together, it was like, ’Yes, it was a hate crime,’” Chalarca told NBC 6 News. “We probably provoked them because we were walking together, holding hands. It was gay pride, South Beach was full of gay people.”
Helmut Muller Estrada, who witnessed the assault, told the Miami Herald. “They almost killed this guy, literally.” Estrada actually tried to stop the attack, but one of the suspects knocked him out and he hit his head on the concrete. The fall left Muller with a large gash on the back of his head that required four stitches.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight,” he added, “we all should respect each other.”
Anyone with information about the attack is asked to contact Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-571-TIPS.