Richland Hills, Texas – A 71-year-old grandmother allegedly beat and choked a gay man with her cane, calling him a “faggot” and falsely accusing him of having AIDS. Wanda Derby of Richland Hills, a suburb of Fort Worth, unleashed her homophobic attack on Wednesday night against a 25-year-old gay man her son moved in with last week, according to NBCDFW.com. Derby and her son had been “having issues” for several days, and her son decided to move in with the man and his family who also live in the neighborhood. Tensions had been mounting for weeks, according to the victim. Derby allegedly posted several times on Facebook that her son’s friend had AIDS and was going to die from it. The victim of the attack says he had to reassure his friends the accusation was not true, and that he was disease free.
The victim, who preferred to be unidentified in two news sources but is openly named in a third, says the Wednesday night attack was unprovoked. Derby, he said, struck him with her wooden cane, choked him with the crook of the cane, and then attacked other family members, including the victim’s mother, whom she allegedly slapped in the face. Derby repeatedly yelled homophobic slurs as she carried on the attack. “I was very offended,” the victim said to MSNBC. “You just don’t go around calling people names because. It’s just not normal.” he continued, “We finally got the cane and got it away from her and threw it on the ground. And then that’s when I ran around and got inside the house. And then we started trying to shut the door. And she was like, full force, coming.”
Detective Tye Bell of the Richland Hills Police told the Dallas Voice that the victim suffered multiple bruises on his torso and marks on his neck from the cane. He was treated by the Richland Hills Police on the scene. “[Derby’s] statements were very biased toward sexual preference and that gave us the probable cause to file that as a hate crime,” Bell said to Voice reporters. Derby was arrested Wednesday and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon that may be enhanced due to a hate crimes charge. Without the hate crimes enhancement, Derby could serve a maximum of 20 years in prison, if found guilty. With the hate crimes enhancement, she could face a life sentence. After posting $11,500 bail, she was released on Thursday afternoon from the Richland Hills jail.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that just hours before the gay bashing, Derby wrote on her Facebook page: “My son Steven is no longer my son. He has sided with the idiots next door and I guess he [thinks] they will take care of him. He will never get another thing from me or his dad. We have washed our hands of him.” Derby was a longtime financial officer of the Mental Health Mental Retardation Association of Tarrant County, and worked for two years at the American Red Cross of Greater Dallas, according to her posts on Facebook.
The victim of Derby’s hate crime, who is an actor, says she deserves to be taught a lesson, and he hopes she receives the full penalty of the law. He went on to tell the Dallas Voice that he was proud of being gay. “She’s not going to make me feel bad for who I am,” he said. “I’m not changing my lifestyle because someone feels I am a disgrace.”
Columbia Heights, District of Columbia – Metro Police announced Monday that a woman has been arrested for the shooting of a gay man in a local IHOP restaurant. DC Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and DC Mayor Vincent Gray told reporters that LaShawn Carson, 27, resident of the District, has been arrested for the March 11 shooting in what is being called an anti-gay hate crime. The Washington Times reports that investigating officers say anti-gay epithets were used by the suspect during the attack, leading police to investigate the shooting as a possible hate crime. Two groups of customers engaged in a disturbance at approximately 6:30 a.m. on the 11th at the Columbia Heights IHOP leading to blows being exchanged and water glasses being thrown. Carson was hit in the face in the altercation, backed away, and then opened fire inside the restaurant, yelling epithets at her victim, according to CBS DC. The victim survived, but still has a bullet lodged in his liver.
DC Council Member for District 1, Democrat Jim Blair, commenting on Carson’s arrest, said, “What a relief this is. This was a horrendous hate crime that singled someone out on the perception they were part of a particular group.” The suspect was arraigned on Monday, and will have a preliminary hearing on Thursday. Until authorities can determine if they wish to charge Carson with a hate crime, she is being held without bond. At present, she has been charged with aggravated assault while armed. A surveillance video confirmed who fired the shot. Other persons have been identified in the video, but at no one else has been arrested in connection with the possible hate shooting. Officials are assuring the public that this incident has no relationship with the rash of physical violence against DC gays, lesbians, and transgender persons.
Hollywood, California – Police are investigating a severe beating at one of the busiest corners in Hollywood this Sunday. According to CBS 2 News, three men approached a lone, 39-year-old Hispanic man at the corner of North Caheunga Boulevard and Yucca Street, asking him if he was gay. When he said “yes,” the men attacked him so brutally that he lost consciousness. They only stopped their assault when other people arrived on the scene, and moved in to help the victim. The victim took a cab to the hospital where he was treated and released. Police have only a vague description of the attackers. There has been no evidence to suggest there was a racial/ethnic dimension to the assault. This appears to be a gay bashing, plain and simple, and police in the Hollywood Division of the LAPD are investigating it as such.
The attack took place around 1:30 am in the heart of Hollywood, a location where people have felt safe for years. For a man to be assaulted so blatantly raises security concerns for residents. Area resident Daniela Castro told CBS 2 reporters that she was shocked and disgusted that such a hate crime took place in her neighborhood. “I hate that people have to think that way,” she said. “People need to be more open-minded.” Noting that she walks through the same intersection to and from acting classes, Castro said, “I really hope they get caught. If they keep doing that to people, it’s just not right.”
The gay community in the Hollywood area is on high alert already. In October, a series of gay bashings took place in West Hollywood, according to the Los Angeles Times. Authorities downplayed the anti-gay attacks at that time, reassuring the community that there was no evidence that the fall attacks were related to each other, and that there was apparently no upsurge in anti-gay violence in the city. Now, with this disturbing gay bashing taking place in the heart of the city, gay activists are calling for immediate investigation and action to protect the large LGBTQ community.
Corpus Christi, Texas – A gay university student says he was captured, beaten for hours, raped, and would surely have died if he had not escaped his assailants through a window. Keire Gartica, 25, a Texas A&M Corpus Christi Political Science student, was found naked and bleeding from multiple wounds on Thursday after his harrowing escape. The police took him to a hospital where he was treated and released. Gartica says his attackers, two Hispanic men in their 20s or 30s, held him hostage and repeatedly assaulted him, calling him racial and homophobic slurs, after he came by their house on Elizabeth Street to repay a $5 debt he owed them.
KRIS TV News reports that police are treating the investigation as a simple assault until the District Attorney makes a determination on hate crimes charges. Gartica, in the meanwhile, has left Corpus Christi for his home in another locale to recover from his wounds. According to his Facebook page, authorities are “dragging their feet,” and police have not yet interviewed him about the heinous hate crime which took place almost a week ago. On Sunday, Gartica posted: “I was the victim of a heinous hate crime that has rendered me a shell of myself. Action ten news in Corpus is covering the story and I conducted an extended interview that airs tonight at ten. There is also footage of me immediately after my escape thursday night on the action ten site… the people responsible for this will be held accountable and brought to justice.”
The attack was prolonged and brutal. Gartica told KZTV 10 reporters that he was forced to clean the house naked by his assailants, who beat him with a belt buckle, glass cups, a frying pan, a pistol, and their fists while he complied in fear of his life. At one point, an attacker threw bleach in his eyes, blinding him. The men debased him racially, and violated him sexually with a variety of items. Gartica is certain he would not be alive today if he had not taken a chance and jumped out of a window.
Now Gartica, shaken by his ordeal, has lost his sense of security. He says he will not feel safe again until his attackers are apprehended and are behind bars. As he said in a telephone interview for Six News, “I don’t feel right at all. It’s hard to fathom that this actually happened. It doesn’t seem like this actually happened.” Though Gartica is appreciative of the outpouring of support for him by friends and classmates all over the state of Texas, he posted on his Facebook page,“It has been almost a week. I just feel powerless.”