Man arrested over brutal attack that left gay rights champion ‘unable to walk’
A man has been arrested in connection with a suspected hate crime attack on a gay couple.
Chris and George Zander, of Palm Springs, California, were attacked on November 1 while leaving a gay nightclub.
After leaving Hunters Nightclub a man shouted a homophobic slur at the pair, before approaching them with an accomplice and violently attacking them with a bottle.
71-year-old George Zander – who is the field manager for LGBT advocacy group Equality California – has been hospitalised after the brutal attack, and was required to undergo surgery.
After the attack Mr Zander was rendered unable to sit up or walk – though husband Chris Zander, who was not as badly hurt, reports his condition is improving.
Palm Springs Police Department confirmed that 35-year-old Keith Terranova has been arrested in connection with the attack. He faces hate crime charges, as well as battery, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon.
Police said: “The victims reported that a derogatory comment towards gays was made by one suspect during the initial incident and by the second suspect during the subsequent incident.
“Both victims were transported to a local hospital by ambulance. One of the victims was treated and released from a local hospital. The other victim, a 71 year old male, was hospitalized and remains under medical care.
“PSPD Detectives began an extensive investigation into this incident. On Wednesday, November 11, 2015, at approximately 12:23 PM, Suspect-Keith Terranova was arrested at the Palm Springs Police Station without incident.
“He was later transported to the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility. The investigation into this incident remains active.”
It is understood that police are still seeking a second man in relation to the attack.
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Earlier, Chris Zander assured the community that his husband’s condition is improving.
He said: “He is now beginning to develop strength and flexibility in his ankles and knees.
“He begins to cry in happiness when he begins talking about the support, the good energy, and the love that our community and our family has provided to us.”
Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, said: “George is a core member of our team and our entire staff and board were horrified to hear of this terrible hate crime.
“This was an attack on someone who confronts bigotry and hostility as part of his job, and who works every day to make the world a better and safer place for LGBT people.
“If it can happen to George in a place that we think of as a refuge for the LGBT community, it can happen to anyone, anywhere. In spite of the victories of the past 10 years, we still have so much work to do.”