King County prosecutors charged five men with malicious harassment on Monday in connection with an incident last week in which they yelled racial and homophobic slurs at a 20-year-old man before beating him in an unprovoked attack on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.
Malicious harassment, a Class C felony, is the state’s hate crime statute that makes it illegal to threaten, physically injure or damage property based on a perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap.
The suspects are all white males with out-of-state home addresses, according to court documents. They are accused of beating a 20-year-old black man with their fists, feet and a skateboard, according to Seattle police.
Trey Amberson, 22, of Trustville, Ala., is apparently on probation for a 2011 charge of carrying a concealed dirk or dagger in California, charging papers say. Amberson, who is homeless, arrived in Seattle a week ago to attend the Folk Life Festival, according to the charges. He remains in the King County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail.
Justin Echols, 22, of West Palm Beach, Fla., is also being held in lieu of $10,000 bail. His criminal history in Florida includes breaking and entering and simple assault, and he has no known local ties, charging papers say.
Aaron Nelson, 21, of Gaston, Ore., is being held without bail for failing to appear in a Walla Walla court on a fourth-degree assault charge, jail records show. He entered a deferred disposition on a fourth-degree domestic violence assault charge in 2011, has no local ties and plans to return to Oregon, charging papers say.
William Berger, 21, of Davie, Fla., is being held in lieu of $10,000, jail records show. He was charged with criminal trespass in Florida earlier this year and has no local ties, according to charging documents.
Zachary Kocikhill, 21, of La Mesa, Calif., recently arrived here from California and has no local ties, charging papers say. He is also being held in lieu of $10,000 bail, jail records show.
A doorman working at the Comet Tavern in the 900 block of East Pike Street flagged down a Seattle police patrol car around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday and told an officer that he had witnessed a group of men beating the victim while yelling racial and homophobic slurs, according to the charging documents. The doorman, who pointed out the suspects as they sat on a sidewalk near the bar, said the group had also yelled similar ephitets at other passersby, the papers say.
The doorman, 31, told police the 20-year-old victim was walking east on Pike Street when he got into a verbal exchange with the five suspects, charging papers say. The alleged victim continued walking when he was “swarmed” by the five men; one of them grabbed the victim around the neck and took him to the ground, and the group continued to punch and kick him, charging papers say.
After the five men were taken into custody, the victim walked up to the scene, the papers say. “He was shaking, upset, crying and had a lot of blood bleeding from a cut on his lip,” according to the charges. The man was treated by medics, then taken to Harborview Medical Center.