Suspects Still at Large in February Anti-Gay Hate Crime

At the 94th Precinct’s monthly Community Council Meeting April 18, officials informed residents that no arrests have been made in connection to a February attack motivated by the victim’s perceived sexual orientation. The incident took place in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The 94th Precinct serves Greenpoint and a portion of Williamsburg.

On Feb. 22, 29-year-old Barie Shortell was attacked by a group of six teenagers while walking home near North 4th and Wythe Streets, a location that sees less foot traffic relative to the rest of the neighborhood due to its proximity to the East River waterfront. Shortell suffered a broken eye socket, nose and jaw. He was taken to Woodhull Hospital and required nine hours of surgery as doctors performed a facial reconstruction and reset his jaw.

The perpetrators, who were described as wearing hooded sweatshirts, did not attempt to rob Shortell, but mocked him with anti-gay slurs during the attack. The incident is being classified as a hate crime. The Brooklyn Paper reports that police closed the case but reopened it due to pressure from the Anti-Violence Project, a New York-based non-profit organization that aims to raise awareness of and put an end to bias crimes that target the LGBT community.

Shortell, who is uninsured, is facing tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. In response, friends held a benefit for him March 23 at Blackout Bar, a local watering hole. The story was first reported March 17 by That Greenpoint Blog after a friend of Shortell’s sent the editor a note about his ordeal.

There has been a rash of bias crimes in North Brooklyn since 2010, including an attack against Joel Weinberger, a 26-year-old teacher at a Hebrew school, that took place during the early evening of Nov. 24, 2010. That attack also occurred in Williamsburg at the corner of Harrison Avenue and Wallabout Street.

On Dec. 7, The Brooklyn Paper reported that the suspects in Weinberger’s assault were arrested shortly after a similar attack on another Orthodox Jewish man, 45-year-old Moshe Guttman, in the same area. The suspects were arrested on Harrison Avenue and Walton Street mere blocks from the site of the November assault on Weinberger.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 48.5 percent of hate crimes reported in the United States in 2009 were motivated by race or ethnicity, while 18.5 percent were motivated by sexual orientation. The FBI counted 6,598 reported bias crime incidents in 2009, a decrease of 1,182 over 2008.


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