Pittsburgh police said today they have identified multiple suspects in the assault of a gay man who was walking with his partner in Lawrenceville over the weekend.
Police said they plan to consult with the Allegheny County district attorney's office to determine what charges would be appropriate in the case.
News of the attack spread Monday after 26-year-old Ben Stoviak of Squirrel Hill recounted his version of events on Facebook.
Pittsburgh police said they were called to the 5100 block of Butler Street shortly after 2:30 a.m. Sunday for a report that a man had been assaulted.
Mr. Stoviak told police he was leaving Remedy bar with his 22-year-old boyfriend when three men began yelling at them, using a derogatory term for a gay person. Police said the men surrounded Mr. Stoviak and his boyfriend, punched Mr. Stoviak, and one man then kicked him in the face and head. Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said Mr. Stoviak's partner ran away at some point during the attack.
Mr. Stoviak declined medical treatment at the scene, Ms. Richard said.
A witness saw the three men drive away in a black Hyundai and wrote down the license plate.
Ms. Richard said police believe all of the men involved were inside Remedy bar at some point during the night.
Mr. Stoviak told KDKA-TV he thought he and his boyfriend were targeted only because of their sexuality and because they were openly showing affection toward one another.
Representatives from the Delta Foundation, a local LGBT advocacy group, called the DA's office and the FBI Monday and asked them to look at the matter as a possible hate crime, according to spokeswoman Chris Bryan.
Mike Manko, spokesman for the DA's office, said today that the DA's office plans to consult with the U.S. Attorney's office to see whether the case could be considered as a federal hate crime.
"Under the state law, the actions prior to this assault do not in and of themselves constitute a crime," he said. "However, as part of the prosecution, we will use those actions to establish motive and to illustrate the animus that was present prior to the assault. Should there be a conviction, those factors would be part of our argument for incarceration."
Liz Navratil: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1438. First Published October 8, 2013 7:34 AM