Four men suspected of brutally
attacking a gay couple following Miami Beach's annual LGBT Pride have
been charged with hate-crime related felony offenses.
Rene Chalarca and Dmitry Logunov, both
32, were attacked on April 8 as they walked home from the parade.
“We were walking and holding hands
and needed to use the bathroom,” Logunov told the South
Florida Gay News.
Logunov was called a “faggot” in
Spanish and beaten unconscious as he walked out of the public
bathroom. When Chalarca intervened, three men attacked him. The
four men also attacked a good Samaritan, identified as Helmut Muller,
who came to the couple's aid.
The four suspects – Juan C. Lopez,
21; Luis M. Alonso Piovet, 20; Adonis Diaz, 21; and Pablo Reinaldo
Romo-Figueroa, 21 – surrendered to the Miami Beach police
department through an attorney and were charged with aggravated
On Thursday, Miami-Dade County
prosecutors upgraded the charges to a hate crime. The men, who have
pleaded not guilty, face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
“These charges send a strong message
that #HateCrime will NEVER be tolerated,” Miami Beach Major of
Police Paul Acosta said in a tweet.
Dennis Gonzalez, who is representing
the suspects, denied that his clients used gay slurs during the
“All four of my clients condemn acts
of violence toward anyone whether it's motivated by hate toward the
gay community, toward nationality or anything of that nature,”
Gonzalez told The
Washington Post. “They come out and condemn that. We
don't believe there was any type of animus toward the gay community.”
The couple has also criticized the
police's response. They said the officers refused to chase the men,
who were still visible in the distance. And a female officer told
Logunov to “stop the drama” and “shut the fuck up.”
Paramedics who treated the couple at
the scene told them to go home. Later, they decided to go to the
hospital on their own and discovered that Chalarca had a broken tear
duct and might need surgery.