Robbery Victim Reports Anti-Gay Slurs

As status hearing is postponed, no bias enhancements filed against two suspects charged in 14th Street assault

The two men suspected of an April 25 altercation, in which they allegedly beat and robbed a man in the 1300 block of 14th Street NW just before 1 a.m., appeared in D.C. Superior Court today, where they were assigned new lawyers and had their preliminary status hearing postponed by two weeks.

Gustavo Velasquez, 24, and Ciriaco Oxlaj, 26, have each been charged with one count of robbery for allegedly assaulting and stealing an iPad from a man standing on the 14th Street sidewalk. The suspects are alleged to have yelled anti-gay slurs at the victim during the attack.

Although police initially investigated the incident as a potential hate crime, no bias enhancements have been filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia against either defendant.

Prior to the start of the hearing, Velasquez’s attorney, Mitchell Baer, and Oxlaj’s attorney, Martin Rosendorf, asked to withdraw from the case. Superior Court Judge Frederick Sullivan approved the withdrawals and postponed the preliminary hearing to the morning of May 29 so that the newly assigned lawyers could become better acquainted with the details of the case.

Both Velasquez and Oxlaj were released on personal recognizance following their initial court appearance immediately after arrest. Both have been ordered to report weekly, in person, to the court’s Pretrial Services Agency (PSA), avoid drug use and comply with the terms of a drug-treatment program if necessary, and to stay away from both the victim and the area on 14th Street NW between Massachusetts and Rhode Island Avenues.

Sullivan also granted a request by a representative from PSA to require Velasquez to submit to further drug testing and an addiction severity index assessment. According to the PSA representative, Velasquez tested positive for cocaine at the time of his arrest.

According to charging documents in the case, the victim was standing on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette while holding an iPad when three men approached him, called him a ”faggot” in Spanish, and struck him, knocking him to the ground and attempting to reach into his pants pockets. The victim temporarily lost consciousness, though he did not require hospitalization.

Police responding to a call about a possible destruction of property in progress encountered the victim, who pointed to Velasquez and Oxlaj, telling officers, ”That’s them right there, they just beat me up!” The victim was unable to identify a third assailant. Police then arrested Velasquez and Oxlaj and took them into custody.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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