A gay couple was allegedly attacked in a Florida Burger King for kissing inside the fast-food restaurant while waiting for their order. Miami Beach Police have launched an investigation into the reported anti-gay attack and asked this week for the public's help in identifying the suspect.
The gay couple were visiting Florida from Los Angeles when they were slammed to the ground by a group of men at the BK Whopper Bar in South Beach, a popular tourist destination in Miami Beach. The March 14 brawl was captured on video by the restaurant's security cameras.
“The subjects in this case happen to be gay individuals, and that’s part of our investigation to see what provoked that attack,” said Miami Beach police officer Ernesto Rodriguez.
The couple, Eric Danko, 25, and Jordon Schaeffer, 24, told police they were kissing when other patrons in the restaurant started shouting gay slurs at them. The gay couple began arguing with three men. The couple told police the men were "offended" by their public display of affection.
One of the suspects slammed one of the victims on the ground and another man put the other victim in a headlock with his legs, the Miami New Times reported. Schaeffer suffered lacerations to his lip. When other customers tried to stop the fight, one of the restaurant patrons pushed them away.
The attackers left the restaurant and Danko pursued them. He was later arrested for taking part in the fight, and he told authorities he had been under the influence of gamma hydroxybutyric acid, or GHB, known as a "club drug."
“The clear message we wanna give to visitors and residents of Miami Beach, and Miami-Dade County for that matter, is there is no place for hate here,” Rodriguez told local media.
Tourists told local media they were surprised by the violence in South Beach, which is often regarded as a gay-friendly destination.
“It is surprising that people concern themselves about what two people care about,” Mark Meyer, who was visiting for his 60th birthday, said. “There’s a lot of people in the world and if they’re afraid to get out and see it then maybe they should just stay home and not even go to a Burger King.”