Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson suffered a broken nose in an attack by two or three unidentified assailants in Rehoboth Beach, Del., Sunday night while walking along a residential street near the house where he was staying for the Memorial Day weekend.
Johnson said the attackers jumped him from behind as he walked along King Charles Street while he was headed toward the town’s business section to meet friends at the Blue Moon gay bar and restaurant.
He said one of the assailants, whom he described as young black males, grabbed his cell phone as they punched him in the head and body. He said they made no attempt to take his wallet and did not say anything as they attacked him.
Johnson said a police officer and detective from the Rehoboth Beach Police Department interviewed him about the incident, saying the matter was under investigation.
The incident took place on Johnson’s birthday.
Rehoboth Beach Police Chief Keith Banks said he would issue a statement on Tuesday seeking help from the public in the police investigation, with the hope that someone who may have witnessed the assault against Johnson or who might know the identities of the attackers would come forward.
Banks said the attack against Johnson, which he lists as a robbery by force and violence, is the first such incent to occur in the town so far this year. He said there were eight cases of robbery by force and violence in Rehoboth last year, and police made arrests in each of those cases. Some took place on the boardwalk.
“The fact that we made an arrest in every case last year shows how we take this very seriously,” Banks said.
Banks said that from Johnson’s description of what happened, there’s no evidence to indicate the attack and robbery was a hate crime. But he said police would pursue all possible leads and could change their classification of the crime if new information surfaces.
Johnson said at least one of the attackers appeared to be in his late teens and early 20s, sported a shaved head, had a medium build, and was wearing a red sweat shirt with a hood. Johnson said hood was not placed over the man’s head at the time of the attack.
Johnson was treated and released from Beebe Memorial Hospital in nearby Lewes, Del. He said follow-up treatment for his injury would take place upon his return home to Arlington, Va.
Rehoboth Beach gay activist Peter Schott said violent assaults of this kind are “an anomaly” in the popular beach resort town, which has several gay bars and a large gay and lesbian presence.