MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Four men could be charged with a hate crime after being accused of attacking two men and shouting anti-gay slurs following Miami Beach's gay pride parade.
The suspects surrendered to police Tuesday afternoon, after surveillance video captured them punching two men in the face and knocking them to the ground. The beating left the victims with multiple cuts and bruises. One of the men was briefly knocked out, an arrest report said.
The victims told investigators they were holding hands after leaving a bathroom area along the city's busy Ocean Drive on Sunday when the men approached, calling them an anti-gay slur in Spanish and attacking them physically.
A good Samaritan who tried to intervene also was attacked, Miami Beach police said.
The Miami Herald reports Helmut Muller tried to help the victims. He told police he chased after the attackers and told them to wait for police to arrive, but they surrounded him and knocked him down.
Charged in the attack are Juan Carlos Lopez, 21; Luis M. Alonso Piovet, 20; Adonis Diaz, 21; and Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa.
They are charged with aggravated battery, but the charges could be enhanced under state law if they are classified as hate crimes.
On Tuesday evening, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle tweeted that the agency's "Hate Crimes Unit will evaluate this incident thoroughly." She said investigators are working with Miami Beach police.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the attack "was despicable to see and hear about, especially during a week when we celebrate our diversity."
Earlier Sunday, Ocean Drive had been closed for the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade. The South Beach street is one of the city's busiest and most famous tourist destinations. Dozens of restaurants, nightclubs and hotels are across from the beachfront park where the attack occurred. Also located on the street is Gianni Versace's former mansion, outside which the Italian fashion designer was fatally shot in 1997.