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A Missouri man says he and his boyfriend were attacked outside the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles, Mo., last weekend because they are gay.
The 29-year-old victim says he and his boyfriend were at the casino with friends and family, and his boyfriend had too much to drink. They were leaving the casino and going to their car in the parking garage around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday.
The victim claims a man in another group faked like he was going to hit the couple.
“They saw me with my arms wrapped around him and that’s why they did that [fake hitting] motion and said ‘[anti-gay slur],'” the victim told FOX affiliate KTVI. “Obviously, when they said that, everything after that was out of hate, so it’s clearly a hate crime.”
The victim confronted the first man, at which point some of those accompanying the aggressor beat him and his boyfriend, resulting in several injuries.
“As I’m crawling over to him, I’m begging them, ‘Please stop. Please stop. We’re done.’ Then they hit me in the stomach, I say, ‘please, we’re done, we’re done,'” he said, adding that they hurled several profanities at him.
St. Charles Police have obtained surveillance video showing portions of the fight, and are looking into allegations that the attack was motivated by anti-gay bias, as the victims claim — which could potentially result in additional prison time for the offenders.
“There’s a dispute as to what type of language was used back and forth,” Lt. Tom Wilkison, of the St. Charles Police Department, told KTVI. “At this time, we don’t have anything to support that the two people got beaten up or targeted because of their sexual orientation.”
The victim suffered a broken nose and eye-socket in the attack, which will require follow-up surgery. His boyfriend was knocked unconscious and will likely lose several teeth. They were treated at area hospitals and released. The victim says he’s still traumatized by the incident.
“I think about it a lot, especially with my boyfriend. He took a real beating for no reason. It felt pretty helpless. It was pretty scary,” he said. “How do we go anywhere and feel safe if we get attacked there, especially someplace like Ameristar, who should have top-notch security? If it happens there, it could happen anywhere.”
Ameristar released a statement in response to the attack.
“The safety and security of our guests and team members are among our highest priorities, and we have a robust security and surveillance presence throughout our property,” the statement read. “We have zero-tolerance for those who commit acts of violence or intolerance and are working closely with law enforcement in their investigation. Due to the ongoing police investigation, we are unable to provide additional details on this matter.”
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