LONG BEACH - Five gay men have been assaulted in three unrelated attacks during the past 10 days, police said Tuesday. | POLICE NEWS
Two of the assaults, which have been labeled hate crimes, occurred in Long Beach's well-known, gay-friendly Broadway Corridor, police said.
Deputy Chief Robert Luna said Tuesday that police will be increasing their patrols of the Broadway corridor in an effort to prevent future attacks. One person has been charged in one of the attacks, while suspects remain at large in the other two, said Long Beach Police Detective Jackie Bezart.
Jorge Jhovanoy Ibarrias, 21, of Torrance has been charged with one count of felony battery and one count of a hate crime in a July 24 attack on Martin Sanchez, Bezart said.
Reportedly, Sanchez and his friends were walking along East Broadway near Falcon Avenue about 5:30 p.m. when Ibarrias approached them and asked if they were gay.
When Sanchez said he was gay, Ibarrias allegedly punched him in the face, knocking out one tooth and cracking five others. Sanchez also needs three root canals as a result of the attack, said Eric Avila, 31, a friend of Sanchez who witnessed the assault.
Avila, who used his cellphone to report the crime to the police, and another friend chased Ibarrias west on Broadway and eventually cornered him near Third Street and Cerritos Avenue.
"The police advised me that I shouldn't have chased the guy, but I wanted justice," said Avila, a Long Beach resident and student at Long Beach City College.
The other attacks on gay men took place July27 and Sunday, Bezart said.
The first incident took place at 7:15p.m. in the 1200 block of Orange Avenue. A man was walking along the sidewalk and began talking to another man who had approached him, she said.
The suspect called the other man a derogatory term for a gay person and punched him in the upper torso, Bezart said. The incident is being investigated as a battery and hate incident.
The Sunday attack happened at 1:30 a.m. when a group of men walking along the 1800 block of East Broadway confronted another group of men, made derogatory comments about gay people and began fighting, Bezart said.
The fight broke up, but a short time later, two - and perhaps as many as five - of the suspects who initiated the confrontation returned, and one of them brandished a nonfirearm weapon, the detective said.
Three victims were attacked and suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries before the assailants fled.