For now, the attacks against Florida men David Villanova Jr., 27, and Craig Cohen, 47, are being treated by police as robberies. But they’re leaving open the option of a hate crime. The two men were attacked in separate incidents, but one after the other on the same night this week. Cohen remains hospitalized, having woke from a coma.
According to [Broward Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Dani] Moschella, Cohen was walking in the 800 block of East Oakland Park Boulevard, near the Peter Pan Diner, when he was beaten and robbed. A passerby found him on the ground and called 911 about 1:20 a.m., she said.
On Wednesday, friends gathered at the hospital to show support for Cohen, a Broward School District employee since 1982. ”The doctors said we need to wait 48 hours, but 48 hours are over and his condition has not improved,” said longtime friend Hector Varas. “But I believe in miracles.” Varas said Cohen is a regular customer at the Peter Pan Diner, where investigators believe he ate a meal shortly before he was attacked.
Detectives remain unsure as to the specifics in Villanova’s attack, though they believe he was robbed some time after Cohen. He initially told investigators that he was attacked in the 1500 block of Northeast Fourth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale near a 7-Eleven store, said Fort Lauderdale police spokeswoman Detective Kathy Collins. hHowever, his story has changed somewhat, and Fort Lauderdale detectives believe he was actually attacked outside their jurisdiction. Moschella said BSO investigators are now handling Villanova’s beating as if it happened in their jurisdiction. [Miami Herald]