AUSTIN,Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - An Austin couple said they are lucky to be alive after they were violently attacked in downtown.
The two men were hospitalized over the weekend after they were beaten unconscious, they said, because of their sexual orientation.
Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry said they left RAIN Nightclub around 2:20am Saturday.
While walking to their car, a man passed them and said a homophobic slur.
Spencer said he responded saying, "I’m sorry, I couldn't hear you."
That's when the man called over about four other people who taunted the two as they walked down 3rd Street towards Congress Avenue.
Then, Spencer said, the men started punching and kicking Tristan until he was unconscious.
“The last blow he took was an extremely long kick to the back of his head, so, at that point, I thought he was dead. I thought that that kick alone had killed him and so, when he was just lying there, my first instinct kicked in to kind of just charge at the guy that kicked him because I wanted to create some kind of diversion,” said Spencer.
Spencer was then punched until he was also lying in the street motionless.
After a witness called police, the men were taken to the hospital where they learned they both had concussions. Tristan also had a broken nose, chipped teeth and needed stitches above his eye.
An FBI report released a few months ago, sites Austin as having more hate crimes than any other Texas city in 2017. According to the report, there were 18 total, four of them related to sexual orientation and one for gender identity. That puts Austin second only to Dallas for hate crimes against the LGBTQ community.
But that doesn't make Spencer and Tristan question whether this is the right place for them.
“We may be a little shaken up for the next few weeks, and we may be on our toes, but, from now on, going forward, we're going to keep our eyes open when we're in public, but we're not going to stop going out in public and we're not going to stop showing public displays of affection,” said Spencer.
The couple hopes the police will find, charge and prosecute the attackers for what they did.
“I think that we would both like it to be as a hate crime, as well as bringing awareness back to this issue, that it's still happening in 2019, and, even as far as we've come in the past couple of years, that this is still a relevant problem, obviously,” Tristan said.
Spencer and Tristan ask that the witness who called the police participate in the investigation so they can help find the people responsible.
They also ask businesses near the area of 3rd Street and Congress Avenue to check for any surveillance video between 2:20 and 2:45 Saturday morning to see if they can help identify suspects.
For anyone who wishes to help the couple with medical expenses and costs resulting from the attack: https://www.gofundme.com.