An important update in the case of Tony Randolph Hunter, the black gay Maryland man who died after a brutal street attack near a popular gay bar in Northwest Washington DC. The Washington Post reports detectives have collared an 18-year-old District man previously reported as a "person of interest."
Robert Hanna is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the Sept. 7 beating. Hunter, 37, and a friend were severely beaten by four men as the two were headed to the BeBar. A severe blow to the head left Hunter in a coma and lingering ten days in a vegetative state. Hunter died ten days later.
Police initially believed the attack was motivated by anti-gay bias but later said they had "insufficient evidence" to support that motive. "At this time, there is no information to classify this crime as a hate or bias crime," said Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who was joined Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and other officials at a news conference announcing the arrest. Lanier tells WaPo Hanna and Hunter "exchanged words" which led to a fight and Hunter's fatal injuries. The police chief did not reveal what was said in the altercation but the two men did not know each other.
Sources close to the investigation say Hanna has "insisted he acted in self-defense after Hunter made advances toward him." This will likely be the foundation of yet another pitiful and hopefully unsuccessful gay panic defense.
Four men beat up two gay men who were minding their own business and headed to a gay club. Reportedly there were not robbed. What "words" could have been exchanged that could have lead to such a brutal beating? An involuntary manslaughter charge hardly seems appropriate for such a vicious attack, but, gay men are often re-victimized in their death.
DC Police Say Fatal Attack Robbery, Not Hate Crime [R20]
Report: "Gay Panic" Defense Alleged in Brutal DC Murder [R20]