A gay, male resident of Glendale, California remains hospitalized in critical condition following an altercation with an unidentified man on the street of Palm Springs over the weekend.
Justin Wicker and a friend had stopped on Arenas Road in the early morning hours of July 9 to stop and talk to a stranger on the street. Wicker mentioned to the stranger that he thought he resembled the actor Eddie Murphy, at which point, the stranger became incensed. The stranger began chasing Wicker, who tripped, fell and hit his head on the pavement. At that point, the stranger ran from the area.
Paramedics rushed Wicker to a local hospital, where he remains in critical condition. Police, meanwhile, have opened an investigation into the incident. The Los Angeles Blade further reports that because the stranger in question was chasing the man at the time he fell, law enforcement is investigating the matter as an assault and battery. At the time of this writing, no concrete evidence has emerged to suggest the incident qualifies as a hate crime.
Friends of Wicker have launched a GoFundMe page to offset his medical expenses. According to the page, Wicker remains in Intensive Care, though doctors remain optimistic he will recover. In addition to his work as a marketing executive at a Glendale, CA-based firm, Wicker also has a history of volunteering for LGBTQ-based causes, including AIDS Lifecycle. At the time of this writing, it has netted just over $18,000 of a $100,000 goal.
Police in Palm Springs, meanwhile, continue to search for the suspect. Witnesses describe him as a black male, about 5’8″ tall, dressed in a blue button-up shirt, white shorts, and driving a black convertible. Law enforcement has appealed to any other witnesses that may have information about the assault, or to local shop owners who may have caught the incident on surveillance camera.
Wicker is also “a member of GMCLA (Gay Men’s Choir of Los Angeles) as well as Modern Men In Palm Springs.”