Editor’s Note: Police subsequently said they had not ruled out the possibility that the attack was staged.
Last weekend, three men in masks stormed into a woman’s home in Nebraska, bound her wrists and ankles with zip ties, and carved anti-gay slurs into the woman’s body. The men also painted anti-gay slurs on the walls and poured gasoline on the floor to light the house on fire before fleeing, police said.
The fires went out, but firemen and paramedics rushing to the scene in Lincoln, last Sunday discovered the woman, who was a lesbian, across the street, bloody and dazed.
“She had blood streaming down her body,” Raymond Strozier, a neighbor, told the Lincoln Journal Star. “She was crying. She was shaking. She was terrified.”
The fire did little damage, but the 33-year-old woman was hospitalized. News of the attack, which came in the midst of the Star City Pride Festival, spread quickly and prompted hundreds to flood the steps of the Capitol with rainbow flags and candles for an impromptu vigil.
Social media websites also erupted with anger, prompting Karen Bratton-Cranford, president of Star City Pride, a local gay rights advocacy group, to warn those at the vigil to refrain from acts of revenge, the Journal Star reported.
“Don’t go out and act on your own,” she said. “Don’t give them the power to control your actions.”
The Lincoln Police Department has said it is treating the attack as a hate crime. But despite the far-flung interest the story has generated, investigators have been tight-lipped about the details.
No suspects have been identified.
In Oklahoma on Saturday, a gay man was seriously burned when unknown assailants threw what appeared to be an explosive device into his car.
Jon Ferguson, who lives in Oklahoma City, said he was awakened early Saturday by his car alarm and then saw a couple of people vandalizing his car. As he approached, one threw something into his Camaro, causing an explosion.
Ferguson was treated at the hospital for first- and second-degree burns to his face, arms and torso. The experience made him question his decision to come out. “It’s almost not worth being proud of who you [are] and trying to show you’re gay because stuff like this really does happen,” he said. “I’ve always seen it on the news that kids are dying and stuff because they’re being bullied, and you’re 25 years old and something like this happens to you. It’s almost not worth it, and you understand why kids don’t come out of the closet.”