Fort Lauderdale resident James Garcia said that he was taking his dog for a walk around 8 a.m. on Sunday morning when a man approached him. “He came up to me and asked me, ‘Are you gay?’ and then punched me.” And the stranger continued to punch him.
The results of his injures led him to get multiple stitches, seven on the forehead and three above the lip and fractured the cartilages on both sides of his nose.
After being treated at a local hospital Garcia was able to id his attacker after looking at pictures provided by Fort Lauderdale Police.
On Tuesday officers arrested thirty-six-year-old Maurice Antwan Charles of Fort Lauderdale, a man with a lengthy criminal history at a local hotel close to the victim’s home.
“This is a crime of hate. Whether he was targeting me, someone else he suspected as part of the LGBTQ community,” said Garcia “Yes, definitely a crime of hate.”
Florida has become a problematic state for members of the LGBT community and use extreme caution when alone or in the company of strangers.