According to John Barnes, owner of the Fox, the assailants came into the bar late Sunday or early Monday where the primary suspect was visibly uncomfortable, referring to Barnes as “sweetheart.”
“You could tell by the tone of his voice that he was uncomfortable, he was making a demeaning remark,” Barnes told the Press-Telegram. As the bar was closing, the main culprit punched a young man, described as “much smaller than him.”
The victim, who has declined to have his identity revealed over concern for his safety, was leaving the bar with his boyfriend, David. “He starts pushing me and calling me f–,” he recounted to CBS LA. “I told him I was gonna call police.”
“You just saw fists, and muscles, and tattoos, and all those guys were on top of him,” David added, noting that he was too scared to move. Luckily, Charlie Harris was working in the bar and ran to his defense.
“You could hear the punches…it was bad,” Harris told CBS. He and another unidentified person tried to fight off the assailant. “When I threw him off, his partner grabbed me from the shirt…” and proceeded to drag him on his back. Harris continued to fight off the men until police arrived.
“Based on the preliminary investigation, it was determined that an assault had occurred to a male adult by several male suspects after they had left the establishment,” said police spokeswoman Nancy Pratt. “The Long Beach Police Department is handling this case and are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.”
The Marine Corps has also launched its own investigation but claims the attack was an isolated incident that was not related to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” last year. Maj. Manuel Delarosa, a spokesman for the Marines, said in a statement Tuesday:
“This is behavior that’s not acceptable in the Marine Corps. Any crimes of intolerance are unacceptable and not tolerated as far as behavior expected of a United States Marine.”
The four accused Marines are currently out on bail and have returned to their base at Camp Pendleton in southern California. The police are planning to present the case to the LA District Attorney’s Office today.