FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida man says he was the victim of a hate crime, and he was beaten up in front of his home because he is gay.
The assault occurred last Sunday, around 8 a.m., outside of his condominium on A1A, near 27th Street in Fort Lauderdale.
James Garcia was walking his dog Delilah at the time and heard someone walking and yelling not so far from him.
“As I was leaving the building, I heard from a distance, towards the ocean someone screaming,” said Garcia.
He said he was attacked by a stranger who happens to be no stranger to the law, but he believes his motivation for this latest crime was hate.
“He came up to me and asked me, ‘Are you gay?’ and then punched me,” said Garcia. “I didn’t respond, it just happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to react except falling down.”
The results of his injures led him to get multiple stitches, seven on the forehead and three above the lip.
“I received 10 stitches,” he said. “I fractured the cartilage on both sides of my nose.”
Multiple photos shows the aftermath of the beating Garcia endured.
He said he identified his attacker after looking at pictures provided by Fort Lauderdale Police.
Tuesday afternoon, officers made an arrest at a hotel and apartment building, just steps from the victim’s home.
Thirty-six-year-old Maurice Antwan Charles of Fort Lauderdale, a man with a lengthy criminal history, is now facing a new charge of aggravated battery.
Garcia said that’s not enough.
“This is a crime of hate. Whether he was targeting me, someone else he suspected as part of the LGBTQ community,” said Garcia. “Yes, definitely a crime of hate.”
He also said the damage from this attack goes beyond what you see on his face.
“I do think about it every day,” said Garcia. “I think about the attacker when I close my eyes. I can hear his voice, so those wounds will take time to heal.”
Fort Lauderdale Police told 7News the investigation is still ongoing.
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