Police in Long Beach, California, have arrested four members of the US Marine Corps for assaulting men outside a popular gay bar in the area.

Four men, whose names were withheld by authorities, were arrested after police were called to the Silver Fox at 2am on Monday morning with reports of an attack outside the bar.

A spokesperson for Long Beach Police said:

“Based on the preliminary investigation, it was determined that an assault had occurred to a male adult by several male suspects after they had left the establishment,”

The manager of the Silver Fox, John Barnes, told the Press Telegram that the four men entered the bar on Sunday evening, and the main instigator of the attack called him “sweetheart.”

“You could tell by the tone of his voice that he was uncomfortable, he was making a demeaning remark,” Barnes said.

The bar was closing when the attack took place, and the victim was much smaller than the attacker, Barnes had said. Police arrived on the scene quickly, and the men were arrested for assault, however, the crime is also being investigated as a possible hate crime.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will decide on Wednesday which charges will be filed against the attackers.

The Marine Corps has also been notified, and will be conducting an independent investigation into the attack.