AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Police have arrested four men in connection to last month's brutal beating of a gay couple in downtown Austin. They're crediting several departments and a tip from Crime Stoppers that describes the suspects seen on surveillance video.
"This is a crime that alarmed the community greatly and the district attorney’s office has a strong commitment to working against hate crimes,” District Attorney Margaret Moore says.
A sigh of relief for many members of the Austin community.
22-year-old Frank Macias, his brother Miguel Macias, Kolby Monell and Quin O' Connor are behind bars for brutally attacking this couple the night of January 19th.
They've each been charged on two counts of second degree aggravated assault.
"We took this very seriously from the beginning because if there is one segment in our community being targeted by a group of suspects out there then it makes all segments of our community much more vulnerable,” Assistant Chief Ely Reyes says with APD.
An arrest affidavit details what happened to couple Tristan Perry and Spencer Deehring that night. They both left Club Rain on 4th Street, and were walking home when a witness says Frank Macias called them a homophobic slur. Authorities say the victims asked, "what did you say?", then Macias and three others began following them, hitting and pushing them to the ground.
According to Perry, he suffered a fractured nose, bruised eye socket, concussion, chipped front teeth, cuts, stitches and bruised ribs. Spencer had a concussion, injuries to his neck and bruising.
Reyes says, "One witness recalls suspects calling victims derogatory names as they laid there on the ground." This outraged the LGBTQ community, especially management at both Oilcan Harry's and Rain, in the entertainment district where this happened.
John Scott Neal, President of Rain on 4th and Managing Member of Oilcan Harry’s says, "Our community will not stand by when one of us is threatened or assaulted. We will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of our community and make sure justice is served as it was today."
Reyes adds, "These types of attacks happen on a variety of methods whether it'd be targeting a specific group of people because of their religious preference or their ethnicity or in some cases their gender identity."
APD says in 2017 there were 17 hate crimes reported, and in 2018, there were 19 reported.
District Attorney Margaret more says it is difficult in the state of Texas to convict someone of a hate crime, but she's hopeful in this situation.
"The challenge is the way this is drafted, we have to prove an additional element of the offense and if you don't have strong evidence you don't have strong evidence it often isn't worth it to allege the hate crime. If the evidence isn't strong because you want to make your case you want to get the guilty verdict, not just an enhancement on punishment. So it makes it harder in the state of Texas,” she says.
Equality Texas responded to Tuesday’s arrests, saying “Equality Texas would like to thank APD and the Austin community for remaining diligent in the effort to find those responsible for the horrible hate crime committed. Throughout this challenging time, it was uplifting to see law enforcement, straight allies, and local businesses unite with the LGBTQ community to help everyone feel safe and welcomed in the city we are all proud to call home.”