At the start of UCSB’s Pride Week, a 28-year-old Isla Vista man was allegedly the victim of a brutal hate crime. A college-age male suspect reportedly yelled gay slurs at the man before punching him in the face so violently his jaw has to be wired shut for the next six weeks.
The incident unfolded at about 5:30 p.m. last Sunday, when two guys — both described as black men in their early twenties with dreadlocks — showed up to Estero Park to join the victim in a pickup basketball game, according to the Sheriff’s Office. “When the game was over, one of the males told the victim he was not welcome to play anymore. When the victim refused to leave the court, the male suspect made statements regarding the victim’s alleged sexual orientation and punched him in the face, causing extensive injuries that required surgery at the hospital,” said Sheriff’s spokesperson Kelly Hoover.
The suspect is described as a black male adult between 18 to 21 years of age, about 6’1″ tall with short dreadlocks, Hoover wrote in an email. “He was wearing black shorts and a grey basketball shirt and possibly black shoes,” she said, adding that the second man “who was not involved in the assault is approximately 5’8″ tall, 22 to 23 years of age with long dreadlocks.”
Ethan Bertrand, who is openly gay and serves as board president of I.V.’s Community Services District, took to social media to condemn the crime. “LGBTQ community members and allies, we must remain proud of who we are and raise our voices to say “NO!” to hate in our community,” he wrote. Bertrand expressed disappointment the Sheriff’s Office did not immediately alert the public to this event as that could have helped locate the suspect. When asked, Hoover said, the department “was actively investigating the case and following leads to identify and locate the suspect.”