Backstabber

20-year-old hero stabbed in the back in possible anti-gay hate crime

Dylan Spinosa. NBC screenshot

A trip to Manhattan took a dark turn for Dylan Spinosa and his friend upon their return home via the Staten Island ferry. While waiting for their taxi, a drunken stranger stabbed Dylan in the back while spewing anti-gay slurs.

Spinosa, 20, and his friends had gone into the city to celebrate pride and enjoy a day out now that COVID-19 restrictions have lifted. While they waited for their ride home, Spinosa and his friends noticed a drunken man harassing women with sexual remarks.

Spinosa told the New York Daily News that the suspect was “harassing every girl that he passed by, talking to them sexually.” Spinosa and another passerby tried to pressure the man to leave and stop bothering the women. When they did, the man replied that he had a gun, ignored their request, and began harassing another female.

Related: Police arrest machete-wielding teen in possible antigay hate crime

“He was in her ear, sexually harassing her, saying he was going to have sex with her,” Spinosa described. “Me and this other guy were like, ‘Dude, leave her alone. Go home. You’re drunk. This doesn’t have to get any further.’ ”

Then things turned violent. The drunken suspect attacked the stranger by punching him in the face. Spinosa reacted by putting the assailant in the headlock and wrestling him to the ground. When Spinosa released him, he heard his friends scream.

“I turn around and the guy’s charging us,” Spinosa said of the moment. “I didn’t realize that he had a knife. It felt like he punched me. I thought he threw a beer on me.”

“He stabbed me in the back,” Spinosa elaborated.

The suspect then began yelling anti-gay slurs as Spinosa slumped to the ground, blood pouring down his back. Police arrived shortly thereafter and arrested Eric Shields, 47, while an ambulance rushed Spinosa to the hospital. Medics there treated his wound and discovered that the knife had scraped his scapula. He will need to keep his arm in a sling for some time. He is, however, expected to make a full recovery.

Police have charged Eric Sheilds with assault, weapons possession, menacing and harassment. The District Attorney has also not ruled out hate crime charges, pending an investigation.

The attack follows a recent rash of assaults on LGBTQ people this year. Earlier this month, police in Washington, DC arrested a man for harassing gay diners at a restaurant with a machete. In May, police in New York opened a hate crime investigation following the murder of a 24-year-old transgender woman.