FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Three men are being sought by the Broward Sheriff’s Office for an attack on a gay man which could constitute a hate crime.
Mark Samnath, 24, told deputies he was in Tamarac Commons Park on December 30th when he passed three men who were smoking. When he remarked that it smelled marijuana, Samnath said the three guys started yelling at him and he yelled back. As their argument escalated, Samnath said they started making derogatory comments around his sexual orientation.READ MORE: Storms Causing Flight Delays At South Florida Airports
“I guess because I was a gay guy,” he said. “I don’t know if he saw me in the store and sort of planned this, I don’t know where this all came from.”
In effort to get away from the men, Samnath said he started walking westbound on MacNabb Road but the men followed him. When he reached the corner of NW 89th Avenue and NW 70th Street , Samnath said two of the men attacked him while the third held up a camera and appeared to be video tape his buddies.
Samnath said both men hit and kicked him while cursing and threatening him.READ MORE: COVID In Florida: 5,520 New Cases, 9 Deaths Reported On Sunday
“Because it appears this attack was prompted in part by the victim’s sexual orientation, it would be considered a hate crime, according to Florida state statute,” said BSO Commander Rick Wierzbicki of the department’s Hate Crime Task Force.
Samnath said the attack left him with a swollen face along with a number of deep cuts and bruises.
Hate crimes in Florida are defined as criminal acts that “evidence prejudice” based on race, religion, homelessness, ethnicity, color, ancestry, sexual orientation, national origin, disability or age of victim.
On Tuesday, the sheriff’s department released a surveillance video from a drug store which reportedly shows one of the men believed responsible for the attack walking out the front door.MORE NEWS: Former President Trump Targets McConnell, Pence During Speech To GOP Donors
Anyone with information on those responsible for the attack on Samnath is urged to contact BSO Violent Crimes Unit Detective Dave Lewis at (954) 321-4200 or Crime Stoppers of Broward County at (954) 493-TIPS (8477).