Police sought public help Thursday to find two men who yelled anti-LGBTQ hate speech and beat a man unconscious at the Church of Music Rave Festival earlier this month.
On Sept. 12, 27-year-old Gersson Saavedra and his two friends had just left the music festival in Cesar Chavez Park, just off East Harbor Drive, when two men in a black sedan got out and approached them, according to San Diego Police Officer Mark Herring.
Herring said that one suspect poured an alcoholic beverage on the victim and the other punched him in the face while yelling anti-LGBTQ slurs.
Saavedra told NBC 7 he remembers getting punched and then losing consciousness.
He was transported to a hospital with a broken orbital socket and broken nose, Herring said. Saavedra said he also had a spinal cord injury.
“First thing I remember when I woke on the hospital bed is that one of the doctors asked me if I was gay,” Saavedra told NBC 7. “I was like, that's such a weird question to ask, but I said, 'Of course.' And he was like, ‘OK, you were a victim of a hate crime.'”
The suspects fled the scene in their car northbound on Cesar Chavez Parkway.
Witnesses described them as slim men in their 20s, one with blonde wavy, shoulder-length hair; the other tall, wearing a blue T-shirt and blue baseball cap.
Anyone with information was urged to call the San Diego Police Department's Central Division at 619-744-9500 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 888-580-8477.
Saavedra was scheduled to undergo surgery for his nose. He was expected to be out of work for at least 6 weeks, he said.
Despite the altercation, Saavedra shared a message for those in the LGBTQ community who may fall victim to hate crimes.
“It's easy to kind of blame yourself, think could have prevented this, maybe by being less of yourself, but I would definitely say don't let anyone or even this type of situation dim your light,” said Saavedra. “Always, you know, just be yourself.”