WEST HOLLYWOOD : Youths Implicated in Attack on Gay Man

Sheriff's deputies have arrested a West Hollywood teen-ager and identified two other juveniles as suspects in connection with a gay-bashing incident last week on Santa Monica Boulevard.

A 17-year-old was arrested a few hours after the Feb. 6 attack, said Sgt. Mike Parker. Charges against the two other suspects, both 16-year-olds, are pending, he said.

All three of the teen-agers, who are Russian immigrants from the West Hollywood/Hollywood area, apparently attacked the unidentified West Hollywood man without provocation, Detective Dave Winkler said.

The youths accosted the man as he was walking at 10:45 p.m. in the 7800 block of Santa Monica Boulevard. The suspects kicked and punched the victim, causing minor injuries, Winkler said.

A witness took down the license plate number of the car used by the youths, and the car was traced to a relative of the 17-year-old, Winkler said. The youth has been charged with interference with civil rights and felony battery, Winkler said.

The Feb. 6 incident was unusual in several ways, said Winkler.

The majority of gay-bashing assaults are committed by adults, rather than juveniles, and this case is the first gay-bashing incident Winkler said he knew of in which Russian youths were involved. He added that he did not know the motive for the crime.

Sheriff's deputies said they are publicizing the arrest in Russian-language newspapers to make it known that the department investigates gay bashing aggressively. West Hollywood and Hollywood are home to a burgeoning Russian immigrant community.

"It's important for the media to pick up the stories about gay-bashing incidents, because the next time an individual is sitting at home, thinking about committing an act like this, we want them to know that the sheriff's department will catch them," he said.

Added Parker: "The stupidest thing a person can do is a hate crime in West Hollywood. Besides the stupidity of the crime, (the department) has a 95% capture rate of those wanted for hate crimes."

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