Thursday, July 21, 2011
Colorado Springs Police Investigate Another Bias-Motivated Assault; Two Gay Homeless Men Stabbed While Assailants Scream Anti-Gay Slurs; Police Believe Attack Frustration With Squatters
For the second time in less than a month, Colorado Springs police are investigating an assault in which the victims reported being targeted because they are gay, The Gazette reporting that according to an arrest affidavit, Randy Bishop, 27, and Cornelius Bates, 22, both of Colorado Springs, were arrested Sunday after two gay homeless men said they were attacked by them in a vacant home in the city, southeast of downtown. Geremiah Vargas and Marshall Hamilton-Parks told police Bishop and Bates called them “fag” and “faggots” before stabbing them, the affidavit stated. Both men were treated at a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Vargas and Hamilton-Parks were visiting a friend, who also was homeless and was squatting at the empty house, investigators said. Police spokesman Sgt. Steve Noblitt said Wednesday police are not investigating the stabbing as a hate crime, but just a crime. “I think it’s misleading to start talking about this as being investigated as a hate crime,” Noblitt said. “The motivation is under investigation.” The assault also could be a sign of growing friction between residents of the neighbourhood near the Salvation Army’s New Hope Center homeless shelter and transients who squat in vacant homes or hang around the area. Early Sunday, the three homeless men in the Baltic Street house said they heard a window break, yells and then saw two men armed with knives.“You owe me rent,” one of them said before they punched and stabbed Vargas and Hamilton-Parks, police said in the affidavit. The third man hid in a closet and was not injured, according to police. Bleeding from their wounds, Vargas and Hamilton-Parks sought help at the homeless shelter on Sierra Madre Street around 4:00 am. Bishop and Bates were arrested later Sunday outside a nearby home. Dried blood was found on their clothing and knives with what appeared to be dried blood on them were found behind Bishop’s home, police said. Bishop admitted entering the house where the homeless men were staying and getting into a fistfight with them, the affidavit stated. He denied having a knife, accusing one of the homeless men of stabbing him, police said. According to the affidavit, Bishop said he was trying to clean up the neighbourhood after homeless people had moved into vacant homes. Other Baltic Street residents said people living along the block are getting tired of the squatters and thefts. Jonathan Archuleta said his younger brother’s bike was stolen by one of transients they see in the area. “Who else would’ve come?” Archuleta said. “It was two or three in the morning.” Another man, who declined to give his name, said his girlfriend, who lives across from Archuleta, was frightened one day when she left her house to find a group of homeless people congregating in her yard and driveway. Neither resident would comment on Sunday’s assault nor if they thought the incident was motivated by prejudice against gays or frustration with squatters. Brett Iverson, of the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team, said he was unaware of any animosity between neighbourhood residents and homeless people. “It kind of surprised me that the neighbours knew people were there and we weren’t made aware of it,” Iverson said, adding residents usually will notify police about squatters before taking action themselves. The assault comes about two weeks after another reported hate crime — an assault at the Albertacos restaurant early July 3. A group of men and women who had been at a local gay club told police they were assaulted by five men and two women who called them “faggots” before attacking them. No one has been arrested in the July 3 attack.