Photos of Suspects in Attack of Gay Couple in Center City Released | NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photos of Suspects in Attack of Gay Couple in Center City Released



    Philadelphia Police have released pictures of the suspects in a brutal hate crime attack of a gay couple in Center City. NBC10's Nefertiti Jaquez has the details. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014)

    A Philadelphia restaurant is offering a big reward for information leading to arrests in the violent attack of a gay couple in Center City last Thursday.

    Ryan Fenton, the general manager of Pennsylvania 6 on South 12th Street, told NBC10 the restaurant is offering $10,000 for information leading to an arrest.

    The offer comes the same day surveillance video and photos were released of the suspects, described by police as a group of preppy-looking young adults.

    Suspects in Attack on Gay CoupleSuspects in Attack on Gay Couple

    Police say the group asked about the pair's sexual orientation, and then beat and punched them while holding them down. Philadelphia Police initially said they were investigating the beating as a hate crime. On Wednesday however, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office told NBC10 the assault does not fall under the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's hate crime law.

    The attack left one man with deep facial lacerations and a wired jaw. Both victims are in their late 20s.

    The video released Tuesday by the Philadelphia Police Department shows about a dozen young people strolling downtown.

    Police describe them as clean-cut, well-dressed and in their early 20s. The suspects include young men wearing golf shirts, khaki shorts and, in one case, an orange sweater vest.

    Police say one person also took a bag one of the victims dropped.

    On Monday the victims spoke to NBC10 about the attack and insisted they were beaten because of their sexual orientation.

    "They were screaming, 'you dirty f****t, you dirty f****t,'" said one of the victims.

    Since releasing the photos and video, police say they've spoken to several people believed to be involved in the attack though no one has been arrested or officially charged. They also say the suspects are in the process of hiring lawyers.

    The photos sparked an outpouring of tips from the public, most prominently on social media. One Twitter user, @FanSince09, was credited by Philadelphia Police Detective Joseph Murray with helping with the investigation.

    @FanSince09, who did not want his real name revealed, spoke to NBC10.

    "Someone alerted me about the photos," he said. "So I tried to get it out there and asked for retweets."

    @FanSince09 says he began to receive several tips, including info from a Facebook group which claimed to know the names of the suspects. As he received it, he continued to share the information with Detective Murray.

    @FanSince09 then received a photo of a group of people eating at La Viola West restaurant on S 16th Street. While police have not confirmed whether the people pictured are the suspects in the attack, one man in the picture is wearing the same orange sweater vest spotted in the surveillance photos.

    @FanSince09 says he went online to see who checked in at La Viola on Thursday.

    "Some of the names matched up with the names I was hearing from tipsters," he said.

    @FanSince09 then sent that info to Detective Murray.

    While he admits he's unsure whether the work he and others did through social media allowed police to track the suspects down, he still received credit from Detective Murray. @FanSince09 says the entire experience was an example of social media being used for good.

    "It's just a great example of grassroots organizing," he said.