Four men have been arrested over a suspected homophobic attack on a gay couple in Austin, Texas.
Police confirmed that four men have been arrested over the January 18 assault on Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry, who were attacked by a group in downtown Austin.
Frank Macias and Miguel Macias, who are brothers, were arrested over the attack alongside Quinn O’Connor and Kolby Monnell between February 11-12, local outlet KXAN reports.
The four men have been charged with aggravated assault and are being held on a collective $300,000 bond, according to the outlet.
Four men to face hate crime charges over Austin attack
The two victims told police they were branded “faggots” before being kicked and punched to the ground.
A police affidavit states that Perry “sustained a fractured nose, bruised orbital eye socket, concussion, chipped front teeth, lacerations, stitches and bruised ribs,” while Spencer “sustained a concussion, injuries to his neck and bruising.”
Fox 4 reports that Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore intends to seek hate crime charges against the group of men, raising the charges against them to first-degree felonies that are likely to carry a lengthy sentence.
However, the district attorney noted that due to the way Texas hate crime laws are written, there are very high thresholds for a conviction.
Moore told the outlet: “The challenge is the way this is drafted, we have to prove an additional element of the offence and if you don’t have strong evidence it often isn’t worth it to allege the hate crime.
“You want to make your case [to] get the guilty verdict, not just an enhancement on punishment. So it makes it harder in the state of Texas.”
In a statement, LGBT+ group Equality Texas said: “Equality Texas would like to thank APD and the Austin community for remaining diligent in the effort to find those responsible for the horrible hate crime committed.
“Throughout this challenging time, it was uplifting to see law enforcement, straight allies, and local businesses unite with the LGBTQ community to help everyone feel safe and welcomed in the city we are all proud to call home.”
Both victims were hospitalised after the attack, which provoked a strong response from the LGBT+ community.
Internet raised $20,000 for Texas gay couple’s hospital bills
The internet crowdfunded more than $20,000 to help the Texas gay couple cover their medical expenses in the wake of the attack, after they put out an appeal for help.
Deehring and Perry had asked for just $4,000, explaining: “Both of us were transported in an ambulance and given emergency trauma care at a local hospital. [We] expect our bills to exceed the thousands of dollars due to receiving comprehensive radiological care.”
However, after news of the attack spread, donors raised more than $22,000.
Deehring said in a GoFundMe post: “Thank you all so much for your overwhelming love and support for our situation. You cannot fathom how much we appreciate your help.”
In addition to the medical expenses, more than $11,000 was raised by two local gay venues to offer as a reward for catching the perpetrators.
Austin ‘Rainbow Patrol’ set up in wake of attack
The attack on the Texas gay couple also spurred the creation of a ‘Rainbow Patrol’ to keep the city’s ‘gayborhood’ safe.
The volunteer-led gayborhood watch group dons rainbows and high-vis vests for the weekly patrol, with founder Colin Acock explaining: “In the wake of recent hate crimes against our LGBTQ+ community downtown, we are forming a volunteer group to walk the parts of [Austin, near gay venues].
“This is a positive, inclusive, non-violent, non-confrontational, de-escalation, distraction, and protection squad that can bring some light back to our downtown: bright shirts, whistles, and flashlights.
“Austin Police Department is aware of this effort and grateful for more eyes and ears.”