An attorney for the persons of interest in the brutal assault of a gay couple in Center City Thursday said the victims instigated the attack when they threw the first punch.
Two men, aged 27 and 28 years old, told police they were walking near 16th and Chancellor streets around 10:45 a.m. Thursday when a member of a group of intoxicated twenty-somethings asked, "Is this your f****** boyfriend?"
After the pair responded with a "yes," the group allegedly began punching and kicking them in the head and chest.
But at least one lawyer for the persons of interest -- four of whom were questioned by police Wednesday night -- claim the victims did not disclose they struck first. The lawyer spoke to NBC10 on the condition of anonymity.
Additional video of the incident confirms the injured pair initiated the fight, according to one of of the attorneys, who declined to share the footage with NBC10.
But the victims denied the accusation, while one of their friends said she was not surprised at the alleged attackers' defense tactic.
"The District Attorney warned the boys that would be a defense strategy," said Caryn Kunkle, the victims' friend. "So they were prepared for that. So I'm not really surprised."
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Kunkle added the extent of her friends' injuries also demonstrates they did not instigate the fight. One of the victims' had to have his jaw wired shut.
Several of the persons of interest, who sources tell NBC10 are alumni of Archbishop Wood High School, came forward after a social media firestorm erupted over the attack. Archbishop Wood's assistant basketball coach left his position after school officials confronted him about the images shared online.
Police have yet to file charges in the case -- it could take until Monday for formal charges -- and investigators continue to collect additional video footage of the attack and the events leading up to the assault.