By Ted Scouten

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – With all the vitriol that has surrounded this election season, there’s another claim of harassment – this time from the mayor of Fort Lauderdale.

“They had a blow horn and they were just announcing it all over the place,” Dean Trantalis said.

He recalled how homophobic slurs were hurled at him while he was at an early vote location at Coral Ridge Mall.

Trantalis is the city’s first openly gay mayor.

“I encountered a number of people who were there on behalf of the Trump campaign who immediately accosted me, calling me pedophile, started calling me a [homophobic slur] and thought it was fun,” he said.

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He called the people behind it a fringe element.

“I know it’s not the Republican Party. I know it’s just a lot of rabble rousers that are fringe elements of the Trump organization that felt they could come into our city,” he said. “Several were not from our city. They admitted they came from other parts of the state.”

Trantalis said he was also targeted at another early voting location and near his home.

A pink flag placed on one of Mayor Dean Trantalis’ campaign signs. (Courtesy of Dean Trantalis)

“Right around my house, people, I had yard signs for my campaign, and people attached little pink flags with my name on it within two blocks from my house, which is a dog whistle for someone who’s gay,” he said. “Almost to say, ‘We’re watching you, we’re around your house.’ They wanted to intimidate me.”

But Trantalis wasn’t the only person targeted.

There was a terrifying attack on Wilton Drive, where a blurry surveillance picture showed the culprits.

A man visiting the area, who does not want to reveal his identity, recalled the moment he was shot Oct. 30 with what turned out to be a paintball gun.

“When I got hit multiple times I thought I was being shot with a real gun because I saw the gun pointing at me,” he said.  “And when I felt myself get hit and it was just one after another after another, I thought I was being shot.”

The suspects in the bed of a dark-colored pickup truck. (Source: Wilton Manors Police Department)

That attack left him and a friend bruised and frightened. He thinks the LGBTQ community was targeted.

“It’s definitely people terrorizing the neighborhood, the community. It’s clear that they were looking for someone to be able to target and attack,” he said.

The mayor said behavior like this does not represent people who live in Fort Lauderdale.

“If you can’t be respectable, honorable people, you need to take your dog and pony show somewhere else. That’s not who we are,” Trantalis said.

As for that paintball attack, if you have any information that can help investigators find the guys responsible, give Broward Crime Stoppers a call at (954) 493-TIPS.

Ted Scouten

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