SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A victim of an alleged hate crime and assault is sharing her story, a day after a $1,000 Crimestoppers reward was offered in the case.
Before the chaos erupted Monday, it had been a blissful night on the beach.
“Just all enjoying ourselves, listening to music. It was a good vibe night,” said Jennifer.
Since 4 p.m., Jennifer had been celebrating her birthday with about 20 friends next to a bonfire on Mission Beach.
Most of her group were women, and all were members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Just past 11:30 that night, Jennifer says a man asked to join the party, and he was politely told him it was a private get-together.
Minutes later, Jennifer's friend, Sarah, says a full, 24 oz can of beer can came flying out of the dark.
“It hit someone, bounced off their chest and into the fire pit, and exploded,” said Sarah.
The women say from that moment came a barrage of beer cans and slurs. Near them was a group of five to six men.
“They started yelling at us, just different homophobic slurs. There were racial slurs. There were also threats of sexual assault several times. One man told someone specifically they were going to rape them,” said Jennifer.
About a minute and a half in, Jennifer was hit by a beer can.
“I got struck in the face and dropped to my knees … It was full. I was hit hard enough it burst open when it hit me,” said Jennifer.
A few minutes later, one of Jennifer's friends captured this video of a man, who was recorded striking the cellphone.
Police released photos of a man they believe threw the can at Jennifer, as well as a man they say pointed a handgun at one of Jennifer’s male friends, before the group of men took off and drove off.
Jennifer, who was left with a swollen eye, says the motive is clear.
“I do believe that this was instigated by a hate and a dislike for our community,” said Jennifer.
“This happens. It’s happens more often than we know. It's sad it's still going on,” said Sarah.
Fernando Zweifach Lopez Jr, Executive Director of San Diego Pride released the following statement:
“It can be easy in California to think our battles have been won. The truth, however, is that LGBTQ people are still not protected equally under the law and are faced with disproportionate levels of discrimination and violence in our daily lives. Our work is far from over. I wish the victims safety, joy, and justice as they heal from this tragic act of hate.”
Police have called this a hate crime incident. Investigators say the group of men left the area and were last seen possibly getting into a black sedan.
The suspect who threw the beer can was described as a Hispanic man between 25- to 30-years-old with rose or leaf tattoos on his chest. He was last seen wearing a black tank top, ripped black jeans, an anchor pendant chain, black shoes and black baseball cap.
The suspect with the gun was described as a Hispanic man between 18 and 25 years old with a thin build. He was last seen wearing a black oversized T-shirt, camouflage shorts, a black baseball cap, white socks, black shoes and a black and white lanyard around his neck.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the SDPD Northern Division at 858-552-1726 or the San Diego County Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 888-580-8477.
Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $1,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to an arrest in the case.