According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, an attack on gay man on Sept. 13 does classify as a hate crime, because the beating was based on the victim’s sexual orientation.
Police say 20-year-old Daniel Lago was walking home near Long Road and Barbara Road when 8-10 teenagers approached him. According to the police report, one of them asked to borrow Lago’s cell phone, then asked if he was gay. Lago’s reply of “What if I am?” seemed to spark the attacks, because soon after, police say one of the girls pushed him from behind and she and one of the boys began hitting him. Police say he was hit in the lip, back of head and cheek, but his injuries are minor.
They stole from him a rainbow necklace with two male symbols.
The suspects are still at large. Lago does plan to prosecute, and he told police he can identify the teens because he’s seen them in the area before.