Video shows attack on Miami Beach after gay pride parade
WEDNESDAY UPDATE: All four were released from county jail Wednesday morning after posting $22,500 bond, each.
Four men turned themselves in to Miami Beach police on Tuesday afternoon in the case of a gay couple brutally attacked after the city’s gay pride parade.
The men surrendered through an attorney. Each has been charged with three counts of aggravated battery. It is now up to the state attorney's office to decide whether to classify the attack as a hate crime, the Miami Beach Police Department said in a statement.
The attack occurred Sunday evening around 7:40 p.m. as two gay men identified in the police reports only by their last names, Logunov and Chalarca, left a bathroom area near Ocean Drive and Sixth Street following the parade. Logunov and one of the attackers, 21-year-old Juan Carlos Lopez, bumped into each other, according to the arrest reports. Lopez and his companions, Luis M. Alonso Piovet, 20; Adonis Diaz, 21; and Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa, 21, began to call the victims "maricones," an anti-gay slur in Spanish.
The attackers repeatedly punched the two victims in the face, causing them to fall to the ground, the reports state. The blows left the victims with multiple cuts and bruises on their faces and heads, and temporarily knocked Logunov out.
An onlooker, Helmut Muller, tried to intervene and aid the victims while they were on the ground. He then chased after the attackers and told them to wait for police to arrive, but they surrounded him and knocked him out, causing Muller to fall and hit his head on the concrete.
One of the victims told NBC 6 News on Monday that he and his partner were holding hands when they were attacked.
“For me, the way we were dressed and everything and we were together, for me it was like, yes, it was a hate crime,” he said.
Police released video of the incident Monday night and asked for help identifying the attackers. By Tuesday afternoon, the men had turned themselves in.
If the attackers are charged with a hate crime — which state statute defines as a crime committed based on prejudices including race, age and sexual orientation — they could face a more serious penalty. "I can assure you & our community that my Hate Crimes Unit will evaluate this incident thoroughly. They have been working with @MiamiBeachPD since it occurred," State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle tweeted on Tuesday evening.
One of the attackers was wearing an FIU shirt, prompting outrage from students and alumni and a statement from the university on social media.
Prior to the attack, the four men appear to have had few interactions with police beyond speeding tickets and other driving-related incidents. Lopez faces a misdemeanor battery charge from a January incident, however, which is pending in Miami-Dade courts, according to online court records.
Sunday's attack "was despicable to see and hear about especially during a week when we celebrate our diversity,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said earlier in the day. “Our city actively embraces its diversity and inclusivity and we want everybody to feel like it’s a safe space to be here."