Rehoboth Beach, Del., police have identified one or more “persons of interest” in connection with the May 29 assault against Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson on a residential street by two or three unidentified young men, according to the town’s police chief, Keith Banks.
“We are moving forward with the investigation and working every possible avenue in this case,” Banks said on Tuesday.
Banks said the lead investigator in the case has interviewed “several people” but declined to say whether the persons of interest were interviewed and whether they might become suspects.
“I can’t comment any further other than to say there’s a little bit of movement but not as much as we would like,” he said. “The case is under active investigation.”
Johnson suffered a broken nose in the assault and had his cell phone stolen. He said two or three young males jumped him from behind and grabbed his cell phone after hitting him with their fists in the head and body, knocking him to the ground. He had been walking alone from the house where he was staying to meet friends at the Blue Moon gay bar.
He said the assailants did not attempt to take his wallet before fleeing the scene on foot. According to Johnson, the attackers did not speak during the incident, a development that prompted Banks to say there was no immediate evidence that the incident was a hate crime based on Johnson’s sexual orientation.
Johnson described the attackers as black males, with one appearing in his late teens or early 20s with a shaved head, a medium build and wearing a red sweatshirt with a hood.
Johnson was treated and released on the night of the incident at Beebe Memorial Hospital in nearby Lewes, Del.
Banks said the incident was listed as a robbery by force and violence. He said anyone with information about the case should contact lead Det. William Sullivan at 302-227-2577.