CROWN HEIGHTS — A group of men assaulted, threatened, robbed and hurled homophobic slurs at a 20-year-old man who believes he was targeted because of videos he posts online about transgender issues, the victim told police.
The man was ordering food at the McDonald’s restaurant at 57 Empire Blvd. in Crown Heights at 2:30 p.m. on Monday when a group of men began throwing plastic trays at him and yelling “f-ggot,” “sissy” and “battyman,” a slur for a gay man originating from the Caribbean, according to sources.
The man, a resident of Brownsville, told police he recognized one of the assailants — a 17-year-old — as a former junior high school classmate who had previously made multiple derogatory comments on the victim’s Facebook page, where he frequently posts videos that identify him as a member of the LGBT community.
The 20-year-old told police that during the assault one of the suspects forcibly stole his cellphone; another suspect lifted up his shirt to reveal the butt of a handgun.
All five suspects fled on foot on Empire Boulevard after the attack, sources said. The victim suffered minor lacerations during the incident.
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the assault, the police department said.
After the incident, the owner of the Empire Boulevard McDonald's, Gerald Laurino, said in a statement that the safety of his customers and employees is a "top priority."
"As this continues to be an active investigation, I am prepared to work with the New York City Police Department and assist in any way I can," he said.
No suspects have been identified in the crime and the investigation is ongoing, police said.