Four Suspects Charged in Brutal Assault on Gay Couple
Austin police are investigating the case as a potential hate crime
Austin police on Tuesday, Feb. 12, reported that all four suspects in the attack that hospitalized Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry on Jan. 19 have been arrested. All have been charged with two counts of second-degree aggravated assault, with bail set at $150,000 for each charge. The case is also still being investigated as a potential hate crime, which would increase the severity of the charges.
Last month, Deehring told the Chronicle he believed he and his boyfriend Perry were targeted for holding hands as they left Rain on 4th, a popular gay bar on Fourth Street, in the early hours of that Saturday morning. Deehring recalled a man yelling a homophobic slur, to which he and Perry verbally responded as they continued to walk to their car. The man allegedly called over several more people who continued to verbally assault the couple, before one of them punched Perry in the face – breaking his nose, and dropping him to his knees. Perry was punched and kicked in the head several more times before Deehring jumped in.
Both men were beaten unconscious; a bystander called 911, and they were transported to Dell Seton Medical Center. Perry, who suffered a major concussion with minor internal bleeding, has little memory of the attack. Several Downtown surveillance cameras captured it, and managed to secure footage of the alleged assailants.
Frank Macias and Quinn O'Connor, the first two suspects to be arrested, were identified by name in an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers; Macias, a 22-year-old Georgetown resident, was then identified in a photo lineup by both Deehring and another witness. Macias' brother Miguel and Kolby Monell were also arrested.
Both APD and the Travis County District Attorney's Office have made clear they consider the assault to be a potential hate crime. APD Assistant Chief Ely Reyes, at a Tuesday news conference, called such crimes "very serious" and said they "will not be tolerated" in Austin; District Attorney Margaret Moore expects to seek a hate crime finding from a grand jury. In that event, the four suspects will then face first-degree felony charges and longer prison time.
Moving forward, Reyes said, APD has expanded its Downtown walking patrol, currently focused on Sixth Street, to include the Fourth Street area. A group of LGBTQ community members and allies have also created the Rainbow Patrol, a grassroots group to escort LGBTQ folks on weekend nights. The patrol, which aims to use de-escalation tactics to help avert future attacks, was formed in response to Deehring and Perry's brutal beating. Reyes likened it to a neighborhood watch, and said the community is law enforcement's "eyes and ears out there."
Scott Neal, president of Rain on 4th and managing member of Oilcan Harry's, and both bars' director of operations Scott Percifull addressed a small crowd of reporters earlier Tuesday following the arrest of Frank Macias. The two iconic gay bars announced a $5,000 reward just days after the incident; today, that reward totals $13,000, thanks to contributions from other local businesses. Neal said they want to "make clear" that local businesses and the LGBTQ community "will not stand by when one of us is threatened." The reward, he said, helped send that message.