WATCH: Raul Restrepo recalls the violent attack he suffered last Wednesday. Peter Kim has the story.
TORONTO — Raul Restrepo was out with a few friends last Wednesday night, enjoying company in a place where he should feel the safest: Toronto’s “gay village.”
“Honestly, when you go to these places you think it’s a peaceful environment, nothing is going to happen to you,” said Restrepo. But something did.
He ended up spending much of his night bloodied and battered in a hospital ER after he says another patron at the Marquis of Granby viciously attacked him.
“There was this guy that kept on giving us looks the entire night. We thought maybe he’s drunk,” said Restrepo. “He approached my friend Jesse and said ‘do you have beef with me’ and he just wanted to start issues with people.”
As customers were leaving the restaurant and bar the same man was causing a scene with another group of people, according to Restrepo.
“I approached him and said, ‘you need to relax,’ and then out of nowhere he took off his chain and started punching me. I fell to the ground. He just came at me and gave me probably five or six more punches.”
The alleged assailant is described as white, 6’2″ and around 210 pounds. Video footage is being provided to the police but the suspect will likely not be charged with a hate crime because he’s thought to be gay himself.
“All of us are suppose to love each other, right, and you don’t expect anything like this to happen. It took me by surprise.”
This is the second violent assault against a gay male in May. Earlier in the month 20-year-old Ryan Boa says he was attacked and robbed after performing at a drag show at Statlers.
Police say they’ve identified the suspect and it’s believed he may have left Ontario for British Columbia or Saskatchewan.
With the city’s pride parade, the largest in Canada, about a month away gay and lesbian advocates are assuring others that their community remains safe.
“People have tempers, they react violently to things that they don’t understand — to things that they’re denied,” said LGBTQ advocate Ala Alsafi.
But Restrepo can’t help but feel a bit vulnerable after being targeted.
“It’s a little bit discouraging because it’s going to be in the back of my mind. ‘oh my god, what if someone approaches me and attacks me,'” he said. “At the end of the day it’s really sad that this happens.”