Takoma Park residents are disturbed after learning an alleged hate crime and assault took place Tuesday at the IHOP on New Hampshire Avenue.
At about 2:20 a.m., the two victims were walking out of the IHOP when police they were approached by a group of about 8-10 people, mostly men but including two women, police said.
“Apparently then they gathered around the car and one of the suspects reached in and assaulted the victim while another suspect had done damage and vandalized the hood of the car,” said Takoma Park Police Chief Ronald Ricucci.
Police classified this assault as a hate crime because the group allegedly yelled insults at the two victims based on their sexual orientation, but this type of crime is uncommon for the area, Ricucci said. In fact, this is the first hate crime in his three years as chief.
“What concerns us, it’s gang-related as we’ve identified one of the suspects is a gang-related member. So that concerns us,” said Ricucci. “We’ve had some gang-related activity out there where people have been assaulted recently.”
“A while ago I helped break up something right here in the high rise recreation center,” said Glover. “They were jumping a young fellow and I drove my car over there and they kind of like ran.”
In this morning’s hate crime case, police did arrest two individuals, a 16-year-old juvenile and 18-year-old Leo Connel, who police believe has gang ties. Police said they were able to find them because of the quick actions of the victims.
“We obviously want people when they observe activity like [this morning] to call as these victims did immediately,” Ricucci said. “We were able to respond immediately and make an apprehension and that’s a key to it.”
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