Deputies are looking for suspects who assaulted a man outside a Rock Hill convenience store last weekend.
The attack took place at about 2:30 a.m. April 9 at Spot Convenience Store at 990 Cherry Road, according to a release from the York County Sheriff’s Office.
Joshua Esskew, 19, who is gay, said he was walking into the store when a man shouted a gay slur at home. When Esskew walked away, that man hit him with a beer bottle in the back of the head.
Esskew tried to fight back, but more men -- as many as eight -- came running from different directions and beat him.
"Some ran from the gas pumps, some ran from the laundry mats, some were just standing over there and just joined," Esskew said. "What instigated this and what started this was my sexuality, me just being me."
"It was nothing but hate that provoked this -- nothing but hate," Esskew said Friday.
Deputies estimate eight men hit and kicked the victim who was on the ground.
A report from the incident said police found Esskew on the ground bleeding from the top of his head and mouth, and his eye and lips were swollen.
Investigators said they could not escalate the attack to a hate crime, but they are doing everything they can to find Esskew's attackers.
"South Carolina does not have an enhancement of hate crimes. this is a very, very serious and violent assault and we are investigating it as such," said Lt. Mike Barber with the York County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies said there is a federal hate crime law, but they have to catch the suspects and investigate further before escalating it to the federal level.
Two assailants came close to security cameras. One suspect was a passenger in a vehicle at the scene, which was driven by an unknown woman.
The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with information that could help identify the suspects involved in the attack to call 803-628-3059. Anonymous tips can be made by calling Crime Stoppers tip-line at 1-877-409-4321, or submitting a tip at http://www.yorkcrimestoppers.com .
Tags: caught on tape, raw video, cctv, surveillance video, mob attack, gay man, hate crime, beaten, kicked, punched
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