PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Police officers say a homeless man is being charged with a hate crime after yelling homophobic slurs at a group and assaulting a man Sunday night.
A group of four people was wrapping up a night of celebrating the Portland Pride Parade, which ended just hours before. They told FOX 12 they were walking on Northwest Everett Street, after dinner, when they heard someone yelling.
“When I stopped to clarify what he said, he just got up and punched me in the face,” said Gregory Durnal, who was targeted.
Investigators say it was 25-year-old Justin Watling, a homeless man, who assaulted Durnal.
“I don’t identify as bisexual or gay, but even using those terms; he doesn’t know me, he just identified me as that by his own choice,” said Durnal.
Durnal’s sister Katelin Durnal jumped in to help her brother during the hate crime.
“Immediately just hand to throat, punching him, and just being really aggressive,” she said. “I don’t think who he was attacking mattered. It was the fact he felt empowered and comfortable to use that language in public.”
When they finally pushed him off, Katelin Durnal called 911. She said the man started to leave, and she began to follow.
“I was just so focused on not losing him, and not letting him get away with it,” she told FOX 12.
She followed the man a few blocks away, where police say they arrested Watling on several charges including assault, and a hate crime attack.
“It’s not something you want to happen on Pride Week or ever. And absolutely not something you want to happen to anyone,” said Durnal.
He said he’s thankful he wasn’t hurt worse, saying this attack was a horrible ending to an empowering Pride Weekend.
The suspect, Watling, pleaded not guilty in court Monday. His bail is set at $8,000.