Police in Manhattan are looking for six people who allegedly beat up two gay men early Wednesday morning as they were walking home from a Chelsea movie theater. NY1's Mahsa Saeidi filed the following report.
A peaceful date night for Michael Felenchak and his boyfriend, Peter Notman, turned bloody when the couple was attacked in Chelsea early Wednesday morning.
"I feel awful," Felenchak said. "My head is pounding. My whole face and my nose and my teeth and my mouth hurt. And I'm really scared."
Felenchak said the two were holding hands as turned the corner on Ninth Avenue and 24th Street when suddenly, they heard anti-gay slurs.
"These guys just started yelling at us, like, 'What are you looking at, [expletive]?" he said.
As evidenced by the eight stitches on Felenchak's face and the bruising on Notman's eye, the verbal altercation quickly turned violent.
"They just came up and they hit Peter like this and they just hit me like this. They hit me so hard that I fell on the ground, and they were kicking and punching me. And those were the first two guys, and then four guys came out of nowhere," Felenchak said.
At a press conference Wednesday, community leaders, residents and the two victims called attention to this latest alleged anti-gay bias attack.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said there's been an increase in such attacks in the city so far this year, including the murder of 32-year-old Mark Carson in Greenwich Village in May.
"To be honest with you, with the recent attacks in the Village, and just this happening in Chelsea, I don't feel safe, to be honest with you," Felenchak said.
The New York City Police Department will be stepping up patrols in the area. Meanwhile, long-time residents like Laurie Leonard, who witnessed part of the incident, are disturbed.
"I heard a lot of yelling and screaming. There was obviously a very vicious fight going on. A lot of anger," she said. "It's a terrible thing, obviously, to have any kind of hate crime like this, and unfortunately, it can happen anywhere."
Officials said the increase in the number of anti-gay bias attacks could be partly due to more people reporting such incidents.
Police are canvassing the area for surveillance video.
Anyone with information on the case should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.