Hate crime victim's condition 'deteriorating' as police search for attackers

Austin Police are asking for help finding who's responsible for assaulting and injuring a gay couple downtown. Police are now classifying this as a hate crime. (Photo courtesy: Spencer Deehring)

Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry are recovering after Austin Police say two men harassed and beat them Saturday night.

According to Deehring, the two were walking back to their truck at around 2:30 a.m. when a man started yelling homophobic slurs.

"In the same breath that he's yelling these expletives at us he looks over to his right and motions to group of four or five others who come out of nowhere," says Deehring.

That's when, Deehring says, the men started punching Tristan in his face, neck and jaw, eventually kicking him in the back of the head. "At this point I was fairly certain that that kick had just killed him," says Deehring.

In an attempt to save his boyfriend, Deehring lunged at the men and they knocked him to the ground. The couple was unconscious at the intersection of 3rd Street and Congress Avenue when a witness called police.

Deehring says they both suffered concussions and Tristan had minor internal bleeding, bruised ribs, cracked teeth and a contusion in his jaw.

Deehring tells CBS Austin Tristan's condition has gotten worse since the incident. "The most difficult side effect he's gone through so far is memory loss -- so he'll forget something that happened an hour ago and it goes throughout the entire day," says Deehring.

According to Renee Lafair with Austin's Hate Crime Taskforce, these incidents have lasting impacts on all Austinite's. "When you attack someone because of their sexual orientation or because of the color of their skin or religion -- it doesn't just affect the victims, it affects the entire community," says Lafair.

Lafair encourages victims of hate crimes to come forward to receive vital recovery resources and to help officials educate victims.

Deehring says he hopes the incident doesn't deter other gay couples from being themselves. "There's no reason to live in fear there's no reason that these atrocities should affect how much you think about yourself and your self-worth," says Deehring.

The couple says they're confident their attackers will be caught, and have one message for those responsible: "I hope that the attackers can find love in their hearts in the future to accept others for who they are no matter race religion gender sexuality hate doesn't have anywhere to hide"

For both Deehring and Tristan, the support from the community has been overwhelming. Local bars are now offering a reward for information on the case, and a local dentist has agreed to complete Tristan's dental work for free. The couple has started a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.

Anyone with information is asked to call APD immediately at 512-974-9207 or submit tips via Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS.

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