Man who attacked same-sex couple at Pride ‘innocent because his dad is gay’
The father of one of the men accused of attacking a gay couple at a Pride event has claimed his son is innocent – because he was raised by two men.
Juan Carlos Lopez and three other men were recently charged following an attack at Miami Pride on two gay men.
Rene Chalarca and Dmitry Logunov were knocked to the ground and then repeatedly punched and kicked in the attack on April 8, which the pair claim was prompted because they were holding hands.
The four suspects – Juan Carlos Lopez, Adonis Diaz, Pablo Reinaldo Romo and Luis M. Alonso, – were arrested and charged after they handed themselves into the police.
On Tuesday Juan Lopez, the father of Juan Carlos Lopez, told NBC that he had raised his son along with his partner of 15 years, which meant he could not have committed the crime.
Lopez said that he was certain his son would not attack anyone for being gay, stating: “I’m sure 100 percent of that.”
He added that his son “loves LGBT.”
Shortly after the incident, Miami authorities released CCTV of the attack as part of a public appeal for help.
The four suspects were originally charged with aggravated battery which carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
These charges were later upgraded to hate crime charges as prosecutors successfully argued the alleged attack was motivated by homophobia.
In the state of Florida, these enhanced hate crime charges mean that the alleged perpetrators could face as much as 30 years in prison.
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Dennis Gonzales, the lawyer for Carlos Lopez, has denied that the crime was motivated by homophobia, stating: “Clearly, that’s not the case.
“These kids grew up with their friend Juan – their father has been in a gay relationship the last 15 years.
“These kids have participated in that – that’s at issue.”
Following the attack, the couple were treated by paramedics at the scene for cuts and bruises on their faces, while the man who attempted to stop the attack, Helmut Muller Estrada, was taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center where his head wound required four stitches.
Chalarca said the pair are sure they were targeted because they are gay and were holding hands, stating that they did believe it was a hate crime.
Speaking to local outlets WTVJ and WSVN, he said: “The way we were dressed and everything. We were together. For me, it was like, yes, it was a hate crime.”