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Police: Oak Park beating, stabbing a possible hate crime

Posted at 5:53 AM, Sep 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-06 22:31:23-04

SAN DIEGO - An assault in the Oak Park neighborhood in which a man was beaten and stabbed Monday was being investigated as a possible hate crime.

A "Gay Pride" T-shirt the 40-year-old victim was wearing as he was walking alongside College Grove Drive near the Chollas Reservoir may have incited the suspects to spew a barrage of insults as they passed by in a sedan around 8:45 p.m. Monday, according to San Diego police Sgt. Michael Tansey.

Shortly afterward, the suspects' car allegedly turned around and stopped near the victim, and several men got out and began punching and kicking him while continuing to shout derogatory statements.

The victim was then stabbed in his left forearm, but he managed to escape and call his parents for help. Tansey said paramedics took the man to a hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

"It's unfortunately not surprising," said Bob Lehman, a former Marine and combat veteran who has fought for the rights of the LGBT community.

Lehman is no stranger to hate crime.

"Even before the attacks in Orlando, the LGBT people are the highest hate crime attack statistic that's happening right now in our country," said Lehman.

In 2006, Lehman formed a team of volunteers that patrolled Hillcrest after a brutal beating in Balboa Park. A jury convicted three men who used bats to beat six gay men who had just left San Diego's Pride Festival.

"We became an example to the police department to show how the patrol could work," added Lehman.

Lehman said the team may consider patrolling again following the Oak Park attack.

Some Residents were upset to find out this hate crime happened in their neighborhood.

"I really haven't had an issues," said Minh, a resident of Oak Park for 25 years.

10News spoke to her while she walked her dog along that same bloody sidewalk the attack occurred.

"I actually had a friend who was assaulted for a similar situation. He was out with his boyfriend just having dinner, and it was in San Diego," said Mihn. "So, there is a surprising amount of random pockets and instances of intolerance and straight up hatred."

Minh has never experienced an attack like this, but she said she's no stranger to hate crime and sexual harassment, being bisexual, Asian and a woman.

"If we go back into the closet, so to speak, then they win, which is kind of sad," said Minh.

A description of the suspects was not immediately released, but police said the attackers were driving a dark-colored sedan.