Metro Weekly

Gay Couple Attacked in Eckington

Late-night altercation sends one man to the hospital for broken cheek

A local gay couple was attacked just after midnight Sunday, July 22, as first reported by NBC4. The attack occurred in the Eckington neighborhood of Northeast D.C.

”There were just some teenage street kids looking for trouble, and they found it,” Michael Roike, one of the gay men tells Metro Weekly. ”I don’t know if our phones were out, or if we were holding hands, or if we stopped to kiss. I don’t know what got the kids provoked.”

The two, having only recently moved into the neighborhood, were on their way home after dinner and drinks, using a car service. With many one-way streets making it difficult to arrive at their front door, they told the driver to drop them off when they were nearby.

Roike says the attack began with one of the assailants, seemingly out of nowhere, punched his boyfriend, Michael Hall, who fell to the ground. During an ensuing melee, Roike says a neighbor answered his screams.

”This lady, our guardian angel, came out of her house with her boyfriend,” he says, prompting the assailants to flee. ”They put us in her car and drove us back to our house. I have no idea who she was, just a guardian angel. She saved us. Whoever she is, I want her to know we’re really thankful.”

Roike says he and Hall are also extremely thankful for an outpouring of community support following his close friend, Shelby Thompson, launching a Facebook page to help cover medical costs. Hall, a yoga instructor, is uninsured, and underwent surgery following the attack for a broken cheekbone at Howard University Hospital. He also suffered two fractures to his jaw. Roike says he’s managing his own injuries with ice packs and over-the-counter pain medication.

”It’s brilliant the amount of support we’ve gotten. I can’t thank everyone enough,” says Roike, adding that Hall’s surgery went well. Roike explains that he called an ambulance for Hall after they were safely home, as they noticed swelling in Hall’s cheek. The Metropolitan Police Department, including officers of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, took the couple’s report at the hospital. Roike says, however, he does not expect any arrests in that the attack happened so quickly that neither he nor Hall could provide a description of the assailants. 

A statement from MPD regarding the atttack reads, “We are investigating an Aggravated Assault that may have been motivated by hate bias. The GLLU was notified. Sunday, July 22, 2012, at approximately midnight, two complainants were in the 1900 block of 3rd Street NE when three suspects appeared from an unknown direction and began to yell homophobic slurs at them. The three suspects then approached the complainants and assaulted them. Suspects fled in an unknown direction, one complainant was taken to a local hospital for treatment for his injuries. Lookout is for three black males wearing dark clothing.”

The MPD asks that anyone who may have any information about the incident call 202-727-9099. Anonymous tips may be sent via text to 50411.

Notably, this sort of altercation is not new territory for Roike, who was attacked at 14th and P Streets NW in 2008. At the time, he responded by holding a ”Circle of Love” rally in Logan Circle. While there are no plans for a rally this time around, neither is there any chance of Roike souring on the District.

”We’re not leaving D.C.,” Roike promises, speaking for both himself and Hall. ”We love it.”

Roike points out that the two need look no further than the community support they’ve received in this time of need as reason to remain steadfast Washingtonians.

[Editor’s note: This story was updated July 23 at 8:21 p.m. to add the statement from the Metropolitan Police Department.]

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.