A group of four men in their 20s were arrested Tuesday after surrendering to police on allegations that they participated in a possible hate crime against a gay couple earlier in the week.
According to WFOR, Juan Lopez, Luis Alonso, Adonis Diaz and Pablo Reinaldo Romo are accused of brutally beating two men leaving a Gay Pride event Sunday evening.
The State Attorney’s Office confirmed its hate crimes unit is taking an active role in the investigation.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle explained that a Florida state statute “allows these kinds of aggressive behaviors, these attacks, these beatings, to be enhanced.”
While charges were still be finalized as of the latest updates available, she said the enhancement “moved it from a second degree felony to a first degree felony and it almost doubles the penalty.”
One of the alleged victims, identified only as Rene, described what he said he and Dmitry experienced at the hands of the suspects.
“We were coming out of the bathroom and they started hitting on us, punching us, and kicking us when we were on the floor,” he said. “They had no reason to, basically killing us.”
The four men allegedly knocked down another individual who rushed to the scene in an attempt to assist the two victims, as reported by the Miami Herald.
“I thought I was doing the right thing,” Helmut Muller said of his efforts after the fact. “I was trying. I didn’t do enough.”
He called the incident “a disrespect for the whole community.”
Throughout the beating, Dmitri claimed the men “were speaking Spanish and they called us faggots.”
According to Rene, the two men now bear pain beyond the bruises and scrapes they sustained in the attack.
“We were happy before,” he said. “We were happy before the fight and everything. I don’t know what I feel or how I feel.”
Nevertheless, Rene said of the suspects that he finds himself “thinking of their families” and contemplating what drove them to commit such an act.
After news surfaced that surveillance footage captured the attackers’ attempt to flee the scene, the four suspects turned themselves in through their attorney.
— Jamie Guirola (@jamieNBC6) April 10, 2018
[Featured image: Miami Beach Police]