Lincoln police confirm assault being investigated as a hate crime
July 22nd, 2012
*Update: The Lincoln Police Department has confirmed it is investigating the assault as a hate crime. Public Information Officer Katie Flood said in an email to NET News the department is releasing few details, but confirmed the homophobic slurs spray painted in the victim’s basement. Flood said the woman, 33, was only able to provide a description of the suspects as three men, wearing masks. She does not believe she knows them. Flood said multiple detectives are working on the case, but releasing too many details could compromise their ability to conduct quality suspect interviews. “The levels of a suspect’s involvement may depend on details known,” Flood said, “rather than what was learned in news reports.”
*Update: An Omaha group is planning its own vigil in honor of the victim Thursday night at Memorial Park. The event, which is being organized through Facebook, had over 600 planned attendees as of 3pm Monday.
Omaha, NE – Over 500 people gathered outside the Nebraska State Capitol Sunday night for a hastily-called candlelit vigil. The crowd was responding to word of a brutal assault of a gay woman in her home. The woman was allegedly stripped and mutilated, and according to reports from the woman’s friends and neighbors, she was deliberately targeted because of her sexual orientation.
Lincoln police have not confirmed details. But friends say the woman was attacked in her home by three men who had been waiting in her basement. According to people close to the victim, her hands were bound, she was stripped and anti-gay slurs were carved into her body.
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Police have not released her name. But Erin Thompson, a close friend, described what she was told happened next. “They put gasoline on the floor and they lit the match. I think the intent was to burn her,” she said. “Then they left and she managed to get out. She was still bound, so she was crawling on her hands and knees, and she got out the back door.”
The woman crawled to the home of her neighbor, Thompson said, who then called police.
“All of us have a sister who is now hurting, whether you know her or not,” Beth Rigatuso, one of several gay rights activists who attended the vigil, told the crowd, which held rainbow flags, posters and candles on the Capitol steps. “It’s not right,” Rigatuso said. “And it will never, ever … be right.”
Thompson posted word of the attack on Facebook, along with a picture of spray painted words in the victim’s basement that read “We found u Dyke.” News quickly spread through social media and the vigil was planned in a matter of hours. Tyler Richard, president of Outlinc, a gay community center, said the outpouring of support is testament to the strength of Nebraska’s gay community.
“I hope that people walk away and know that … we are not going to stand around and be bullied, not by politicians, not by people who live in the community,” Richard said. “We are a community that will come together, that will rise up and that we will be strong and we will stay strong.”
Richard said the Lincoln Police Department has a long history of reaching out to the LGBT community and he has faith in the department to handle the situation appropriately. Police told KVNO News the victim was treated and released, but have released few other details. No arrests have been made.