Beating victim describes attack as hate crime

Beating victim describes attack as hate crime

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by TONY BURBECK / NewsChannel 36

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

TONY BURBECK / NewsChannel 36

Posted on April 15, 2011 at 6:29 PM

ROCK HILL, S.C. -- The victim of a brutal beating that was caught on tape at a Rock Hill convenience store says he believes the attack was a hate crime.

Joshua Esskew said he stopped at the Gas Spot on South Cherry Road last Saturday. The 19-year-old said one second he heard a gay slur and the next second he was almost unconscious.

"I responded with, 'What was that you said?' But nothing offensive toward them," Esskew said, describing the encounter.

Surveillance video from the store shows a man hitting Esskew over the head with a beer bottle.

"Three came up from the gas pumps. Two came up toward the Laundromat. There were three or four already standing there. They all just came," Esskew said.

Investigators say a mob rushed to join in the attack just because they could.

"Once they saw the fight occur, they did decide to take the opportunity to jump in and become violent," said Lt. Mike Baker with the York County Sheriff's Office.

Security cameras caught close-ups of two of the eight men involved.

"I believe it was a hate crime," said Esskew, who spent two days in a hospital because of the attack. "I don't have any hate in my heart toward any one of those guys. I believe justice does need to be served. I just really wish they would realize how good of a person they did this to."

Investigators hope someone who sees the video will recognize the people involved and provide tips leading to their arrest. So far, no one has been caught.

If you recognize anyone in the video, call the sheriff's office at 803-628-3059 or call CrimeStoppers at 1-877-409-4321.

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