A gay D.C. man underwent surgery this week after he and his partner were injured in a violent attack that local authorities are investigating as a hate crime.
Michael Roike tells NBC Washington that he and his boyfriend Michael Joel Hall Jr. were walking home July 22 when they were ambushed by about five teenagers in the Eckington section of Washington, D.C. "Four or five kids just came out of nowhere without any warning,” Roike recalled. “We didn’t think it was a robbery because they didn’t immediately ask for something. They just came out swinging and hitting."
Hall, a 29-year-old yoga instructor, suffered a broken cheekbone and other facial injuries. Roike took a string of hits trying to protect Hall, though his injuries were considerably less severe, according to Fox 5 WTTG.
Though he did not specify whether or not he believed it was a hate crime, Roike also told NBC Washington, "We were probably holding hands. It could have been because we’re gay, but I don’t know for sure."
Roike also hoped to thank an unidentified woman whom he says came out of her home during the attack and began shouting at the assailants, who then fled the scene. "This lady, our guardian angel, came out of her house with her boyfriend,'' he told Metro Weekly. ''They put us in her car and drove us back to our house. I have no idea who she was, just a guardian angel. She saved us. Whoever she is, I want her to know we're really thankful.''
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson told LGBTQ Nation that no suspects have been identified thus far.
Fox 5 WTTG noted that Hall currently has no health insurance, but friends and students have since set up a Facebook page and are holding a fundraiser to help cover his hospital costs.