A man was hit over the head with a glass beer bottle while walking with a date in Northeast D.C. last Friday, in an incident that police believe may be a hate crime.
Aaron Arnwine, of Capitol Heights, Maryland, told Metro Weekly in an interview that he was watching movies with his date at his home on Friday evening, and decided they should walk his dogs.
During the walk, they ventured across the D.C.-Maryland border toward the intersection of 63rd Place NE and Banks Place NE. There, a young man was sitting on the passenger side of a car with the door open. When the couple walked passed him, he began yelling homophobic slurs at them.
“There were no public displays of affection or anything, but as soon as we walked around him, he just got out of the car and started yelling, “F—-ts, f—ts, f—-ts” over and over and over again,” Arnwine said. “And then I turned around and said something along the lines of ‘Come on, man,’ and then cussed him out, told him to go to hell. And I turned around and continued walking the dogs.
“My date was probably like 20, 30 feet in front of me at this point. And [the young man] came up, ran up from behind me and broke a beer bottle over my head. I turned and started heading back towards him and asked my date to call 911,” Arnwine continued. “As soon as I started to head back towards him, I don’t know if he realized, ‘Oh, I didn’t knock him out,’ or whatever, but he took off and ran into an alleyway that was across the street. But he left the door to the car he was in open. Luckily for me, he ran, because if he had gotten in his car and drove it off, I may not have been able to get the license plate, make, and model of the car. And the car was still there, with the door open, when the cops arrived.”
Arnwine’s date called 911 and officers from the Metropolitan Police Department arrived within six minutes. The two men told their stories to a detective, and Arnwine got checked out by paramedics. He said he overheard a cop call in the crime over the police radio, referring to the attack as an “ADW,” or assault with a dangerous weapon, and a possible hate crime.
“I really didn’t sustain any injury. There might have been a speck of blood, but it didn’t hurt. It still doesn’t hurt. I never got sore. I never got headaches, nothing,” Arnwine told Metro Weekly. “So the cops, they found the bottle, fingerprinted the car, and did all that other stuff.”
Arnwine and his date later talked with a member of the LGBTQ Liaison Unit of MPD at his home. Thus far, no one has been arrested, but Arnwine was scheduled to go into the police station on Monday afternoon to look at an array of photos and see if he could identify his assailant.
The suspect is described as being in his late 20s, about 5’10”, with matted or dreadlocked short hair, wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt or tank top.
The attack marks the third such suspected hate crime this month involving a victim who is a member of the LGBTQ community.
Earlier this month, a transgender woman was attacked by three people yelling anti-gay slurs at her inside a laundromat in Northeast D.C. During the course of an altercation, one of the three stabbed the victim in the head, leaving her bleeding into a wastebasket in a corner. Police used footage from security cameras to identify suspects, and eventually arrested three people, charging them with assault with a dangerous weapon.
On Pride weekend, police arrested a 13-year-old youth and charged him with assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly wielding a machete and threatening to cut a patron who was going to Shaw’s Tavern in Northwest D.C. The victim said the teen hurled homophobic slurs at him, then came back to the restaurant with the machete, and began stabbing cicadas on the ground and flicking them at the victim, telling him, “I’ll silence you.” No one was injured in that incident.
Capt. David Hong, head of MPD’s special liaison branch, which investigates hate crimes, told FOX 5 that the LGBTQ Liaison Unit is not seeing any alarming trends or increases in hate crimes and that the three incidents are not related. All three cases remain under investigation, Hong said.
Arnwine says his advice to others is to be alert and aware of your surroundings in public, since attacks like this can happen anywhere and can be committed by anyone.
“This was on my normal dog-walking route. I’ve taken the dogs walking twice since. I may not do it at night so much, but if the dogs need to walk, they’re going to get a walk,” he said. “The neighbors all came out and were asking me if I was okay. Most of the neighbors are wonderful people. But it takes just one bad apple.”
Luckily, for Arnwine, his date was also a good sport, despite being scared and being unsure of where the confrontation was leading while it was happening.
“Honest to goodness, while I was standing with the cops, I was like, ‘This guy is never going to see me again.’ Because incidents like this can just sour everything. So I was more mad at the dude for possibly ruining the date than hitting me over the head with the bottle. I know that sounds stupid,” he added. “But he’s a good guy, he’s been nothing but supportive, and we’re planning on having another date soon.”
He added that he was speaking out publicly about the attack so that others will not have to face a similar situation.
“This is not the notoriety I want, but if getting this information out there helps somebody else, it’s worth it,” he said.
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