By Tara Kyle and Olivia Scheck
MANHATTAN — The 6-foot-4-inch subject of last Sunday's alleged hate crime attack is not used to the role of victim, according to his friends. Damian Furtch, they say, is usually the one who protects others against attacks.
Just last month, the 26-year-old Furtch — who was attacked Sunday in the West Village outside of a McDonald's by two men who reportedly shouted anti-gay slurs — played the hero after his friend, photographer Ali Perretz, said she was severely harassed in Chelsea.
Perretz, 28, said she was snapping away on the corner of 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue last month when two teenagers started to call her names, curse and pelt her with snowballs. She telephoned Furtch, who lived nearby at the time, in a state of panic, she said.
That prompted Furtch to race out of his fifth floor apartment in his pajamas to chase the teens away and into a CVS, where he yelled at them until they apologized, Perretz said.
"He was downstairs so quick, I don't even know how it was possible," said Perretz, who stands only 5-feet tall. "That's the first and only time anyone's ever stood up for me to that extent — I wish I could do the same for him."
Anthony Decarlis, 26, who helped Furtch post the Facebook images of his battered face, said, "He's like a human bodyguard."
Furtch had bruises on both eyes and had to get stitches on his face after being pummeled by two men outside of the McDonalds on Sixth Avenue and Third Street.
Police are still hunting for the suspected attackers, described as Hispanic men between the ages of 18 and 20 years old. One is believed to be about 5 feet 8 inches tall , 150 pounds, with a tattoo of a cross on his left cheekbone. The NYPD released surveillance footage Thursday from a camera on the street that captured the attack.
Three security cameras are mounted behind the counter inside of the McDonald's where the altercation allegedly began, but it was not immediately clear if the cameras were in operation during the assault.
After Furtch left Roosevelt hospital early Sunday morning, he told Declares about the incident via Skype.
"His hands were over his face, and he said, 'Anthony, look at my face, look at what they did to my face,'" Decarlis said. "We wear very outlandish things, but nobody had ever threatened us before."
At the Pink Tea Cup restaurant, where Furtch works, owner Lawrence Page said Furch is recovering well.
"He's handling it like a pro," Page said. "He'll definitely fall back in love with New York."
The explosion of media attention driven by those Facebook photos has left Furtch "very overwhelmed," said Ali Perretz, who spent all day Monday by his side.
But she said she feels proud of her friend for bringing attention to attacks like these, and grateful that Furtch didn't sustain more severe injuries.
"He wouldn't even kill a bug," she said. "It makes me so angry. I can't find the words to express how angry I am."
Furtch could not be reached for comment.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers' website or by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637) and then entering TIP577.
All calls are strictly confidential.