AUSTIN (KXAN) — Police are now calling the attack of two gay men in Downtown Austin this Saturday a hate crime.
It’s the kind of case Austin Police Department’s specialized “aggravated assault unit” recently formed to tackle, working to help track down and investigate violent crime in the city.
Lightening the load for detectives
The new group is called the aggravated assault unit and it just formed earlier this month. Assistant Chief Joseph Chacon told me they’ve seen an increase in violent-crime city-wide.
Before, detectives would have to take on a massive queue of cases. The chief said these detectives were working on so many that each case wasn’t receiving the attention it deserved.
But this new team will give detectives a lighter load so they can dive deeper into each case, gathering evidence, conducting interviews and studying trends across Austin. The goal is to make sure each victim is receiving the focus of the detectives dedicated to solving their case.
“Even if we are not talking about the worst case scenario, for that victim, it is life-altering. So we want to put the kind of effort into that which would be necessary for that case to come to a successful conclusion,” Chief Chacon said.
What will determine the assaults overseen by this newly-formed unit is whether a weapon was used and the extent of the victim’s injuries.
Update on Austin hate crime
A gay couple was attacked on Jan. 19 as they left a club in downtown. The two men were chased down, called homophobic slurs and attacked. They were hospitalized for their injuries with broken bones and concussions.
They learned police have been able to track down surveillance video from the night of the attack. The last recording shows them walking down Third and Congress. Police will use that to track down the multiple suspects they believe to be responsible for this hate crime.
“They have so many people working on this. Multiple supervisors, multiple people checking cameras. It’s good to hear APD is doing everything they can and are taking it very seriously,” said Spencer Deehring, one of the men beaten on Saturday morning.
Is the new police unit working the case?
Right now, APD hasn’t been able to share whether the new aggravated assault unit will take on this hate crime investigation, since they haven’t determined any suspects or specific charges. Due it its ongoing investigation, the chief was not able to disclose any facts about the assault.
Description of the men police are looking for
One is a Hispanic man who was wearing a polo-style blue shirt with white stripes.
The other man, white, was not wearing a shirt.
This was near 3rd and congress. just before 2:30 Saturday morning.
Rain on 4th and Oilcan Harry’s are offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.