A brutal attack on two Texas men believed to have been targeted because of their perceived sexual orientation has been classified as a hate crime.
As NBCDFW.com is reporting, the two victims -- whose names have not been released -- were walking to a local corner star near their apartment complex at about 2 a.m. on March 13 when five men pulled up alongside them in car while shouting anti-gay slurs. One of the victims was hit in the head with a baseball bat four times and lost consciousness, while other man tried to fight back and was caught in the passenger side of the attackers' vehicle and dragged a short distance, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The Dallas Voice cites a press release from the city's police department, which reads: "The suspects attacked the two victims causing multiple injuries requiring medical treatment. This violent act constituted a hate crime and is being investigated accordingly."
The Voice also quotes Laura Martin, LGBT liaison officer for the Dallas Police Department, who said the victims didn't know the suspects, and their injuries aren’t life-threatening.
Martin also would not confirm whether or not the victims, described as two black men, were in fact gay. “Crimes against persons is investigating the offense, and we have very vague suspect information,” Martin said. “I’m not going to discuss the sexual orientation of the victims to respect their privacy, but it is being treated as a hate crime, and the civil rights division of the FBI is going to be following it to see if any help is needed as well."
Cece Cox, the executive director of the Resource Center of Dallas, echoed those sentiments to CBS: "Many times people are afraid they may be outed or there’s lots of reasons…they’re afraid they could lose their job if they find out they’re gay, if people find out they were in the gay entertainment district."
Dallas authorities are still seeking the five suspects.