Authorities: Attack a hate crime

Two teenage boys who beat a 15-year-old boy used "slurs referring to his sexual orientation, " the Sheriff's Office says.

Published June 19, 2007

TAMPA - Investigators think hatred fueled an attack on a 15-year-old boy on a Town 'N Country trail.

The boy, whose name was not released, told investigators two teens beat him and called him antigay slurs, said Hillsborough sheriff's spokesman J.D. Callaway.

"They did call the individual slurs referring to his sexual orientation," Callaway said. "He was punched in the face area several times."

The two boys, one 15, one 14, both face felony charges of battery, Callaway said.

The Times is withholding their names because of their ages.

"It's being investigated as a hate crime," Callaway said.

State law allows for enhanced penalties for felonies or misdemeanors committed that show evidence of prejudice based on the victim's race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, advanced age or mental or physical disability.

The beating happened Thursday evening on the Upper Tampa Bay Trail near Dry Creek Drive and Galewood Circle, Callaway said.

Deputies learned of the attack through a phone call at 8:20 p.m. Investigators went to the victim's home, where they found the boy with severe eye bruising and cuts on his face.

Emergency crews examined the boy. He was treated at home and not taken to a hospital, Callaway said.

Two suspects were arrested and taken to a Juvenile Assessment Center because of their ages. It's unclear what relationship, if any, they had with the boy.

Abbie VanSickle can be reached at 226-3373 or vansickle@sptimes.com.