A 29-year-old gay man believes he and his boyfriend were the victims of a hate crime after the pair were verbally and physically assaulted outside a casino in Missouri, but police investigating the crime say they don’t have enough evidence yet to say the crime was motivated by homophobia. According to a report from KTVI, the alleged victim (who did not want to use his name) and his boyfriend were attacked by four men after the couple left the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles early Saturday morning, leaving the pair hospitalized with various facial and head injuries. St. Charles County Police said they have spoken with the accused attackers, who dispute the victim’s version of events and are cooperating with the investigation.
The alleged victim of the crime said he and his boyfriend were heading to the casino’s garage after a night of drinking with family and friends when they were passed by the four alleged attackers who were going into the casino. According to the victim, one of the group of four made an aggressive gesture at the two men as they walked by, although that man later told police he was just trying to avoid bumping into the couple.
“They saw me with my arms wrapped around him and that’s why they did that (fake shoving) motion and said (a homophobic slur),” the victim told the station. “Obviously, when they said that, everything after that was out of hate, so it’s clearly a hate crime.”
He confronted the four men about the alleged gesture and slur, going so far as to push one of them. The altercation the devolved into a brawl, leaving him with a fractured nose and eye socket and knocking his boyfriend unconscious. The boyfriend may also lose teeth as a result of the altercation.
“As I’m crawling over to him, I’m begging them, ‘please stop. please stop, we’re done,’” he recalled.
Police don’t dispute an altercation took place between the men, but said they don’t have enough evidence yet to bring hate crime charges or even assign blame.
“There’s a dispute as to what type of language was used back and forth,” Lieutenant Tom Wilkison, St. Charles Police Department, said, adding investigators currently “don’t have anything to support that the two people got beaten up or targeted because of their sexual orientation.”
The victim disputed this assertion, however, saying there were multiple witnesses to the homophobic slurs. Police are reviewing security video as part of their investigation, but warned the cameras are not equipped with microphones and didn’t record what was said between the men.
Ameristar released a statement saying the “safety and security” of guests is a high priority and the casino has “zero-tolerance for those who commit acts of violence or intolerance and are working closely with law enforcement in their investigation.” They declined further comment due to the ongoing police investigation.