Denver police conduct hate-crime probe after gay man says he was beaten by man shouting gay slurs

Jared Olson says he needs reconstructive surgery

DENVER - Denver police are investigating an alleged bias-motivated crime after a young gay man said he was badly beaten by a man in a group shouting gay slurs outside a hookah bar early Monday.

Jared R. Olson's Facebook page shows photos of him with a bloody, battered face.

"This is the aftermath of my assault that happened this morning at Sams Hookah Lounge!" Olson posted on Facebook Monday.

The 23-year-old Olson told 7NEWS he and two friends were leaving Sam's Hookah Lounge at 2370 W. Alameda Ave. about 2 a.m. Monday when he and a gay friend were attacked by a man in a group of men in the parking lot calling them gay slurs.

Olson said one man followed the trio when they got in their car, then pulled open the door to the back seat where Olsen and his friend, who's also gay, were seated. The attacker repeatedly punched Olson in the face and also struck his friend. The male friend who was in the driver's seat was not harmed.

Olson said the beating left him covered in blood, with broken bones in his face that will require reconstructive surgery. He also had several teeth knocked out and chipped.

"I didn't think that I looked that bad, until my mother had taken the picture and shown me," Olson said in an interview with 7NEWS report Marc Stewart.

"I didn't think it would ever happen to me. I thought people were more sensible than that in this day in age,” he said.

"I just remember looking over, and looking up at the guy and getting hit square in the face right here. And you can clearly tell my nose is like over here," said Olson.


--Victim: Reconstructive surgery may cost $50,000--

The victim said he doesn't have health insurance and his surgery will cost an estimated $50,000.

"I'd like to thank everyone that came to visit me today and for those that have expressed your extremely kind words! Hopefully tomorrow we can figure out when I can have surgery! Here goes night #1 with a broken face," Olson added in the Facebook post with a frowning emoticon.

Friends and supporters have created a Facebook page called Justice for Jared, which is following his recovery and the criminal investigation of his attack.

Olson said he feels sorry for the man who attacked him, because he is receiving support and the attacker won't. 

"People don't like what they don't know," he said.

Olson's mother wept as she talked about what she'd say to the man who hurt her son.

"You hurt someone's child. I mean, you hurt another human being, who should have human rights," said his mother, Melody.

Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said his agency is investigating the case as an alleged bias-motivated crime, but ultimately the Denver District Attorney's Office will rule on whether the attack meets the criteria of Colorado's hate-crime law.

--Anti-Defamation League condemns attack--

The Anti-Defamation League condemned the attack on Tuesday.

"The Anti-Defamation League is disheartened to learn of this tragic instance where a victim was allegedly targeted because of his sexual orientation," Scott L. Levin, ADL Mountain States Regional Director, said in a statement.

"We applaud law enforcement officials for taking quick and decisive action to investigate whether this was a bias-motivated attack, and if the evidence supports it, we urge them to prosecute this crime to the full extent permitted under Colorado's hate crimes law," Levin said.

"Hate crimes have an impact far beyond the individual victim of the crime. When a victim is chosen because of his or her sexual orientation, other members of that group feel unsafe and unwelcome. Hate crimes resonate throughout the victim's community and threaten the safety and well-being of every member of that group. ADL calls upon the Denver community to speak out loudly against hate crimes and declare Denver no place for hate," Levin said.



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