Police are looking for at least one man, and possibly up to three, involved in the violent attack of a gay couple at a Miami Beach restaurant.
A Miami Beach police officer was standing in front of the police station when he noticed something going down right across the street.
It turns out 25-year-old Jordan Schaeffer, who was recently visiting Miami Beach from Los Angeles, had been attacked by a man inside the Whopper Bar at 1101 Washington Avenue at about 3 a.m. Monday.
Surveillance video from the March 14th incident captured the fight take place as more than a dozen people waited in line to order food.
Miami Beach Police said the confrontation happened after Schaeffer and his partner, 25-year-old Eric Danko, engaged in a display of affection. The couple told police their kiss offended a man in a dark shirt and shorts, who confronted them and harassed them “using derogatory words.”
“The subjects in this case happen to be gay individuals and that’s part of our investigation to see what provoked that attack,” explained Miami Beach police officer Ernesto Rodriguez.
That led to things getting physical and within moments, the men were wrestling on the restaurant floor. “Had some sort of exchange with victims, a verbal exchange which escalated into a violent physical attack,” Rodriguez said.
Nearly a minute into the brawl, a second man in a light, long-sleeve shirt and jeans can be seen in the video keeping people from breaking up the fight. He also pushed away Schaeffer’s boyfriend who was wearing a gray tank top.
A police source close to the investigation told CBS4 the attacker in the dark shirt and shorts appears to be trained in some sort of martial arts or experienced in some sort of fighting.
Schaeffer was left with lacerations to his lip and police are now pursuing the case as a felony battery.
Miami Beach police are working with the state attorney’s office – taking this attack seriously.
“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 said.
Schaeffer and his boyfriend have retained South Florida attorney Douglas Ede. Ede and the police report both indicate the couple believes this was a hate crime.
The brawl left the local community stunned.
“I’ve always had a great experience here,” said a man who only wanted to be identified as Kevin.
Kevin and his boyfriend walked right by the restaurant Thursday night hand in hand.
Kevin told CBS4 Reporter Donna Rapado that in 10 years of visiting Miami Beach and now living there, he’s always felt safe. The violent attack stunned him.
“It is scary,” Kevin told Rapado. “I think everybody should be accepting of who and what we choose to do in our lives. I mean I don’t always accept everything either but I don’t get violent towards it.”
Another man visiting again for his 60th birthday said the attack was surprising “in this day and age.”
“It is surprising that people concern themselves about what two people care about,” Mark Meyer explained. “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.”
CBS4’s Donna Rapado spoke off camera to one of the employees at Whopper Bar.
She said fights break out there often overnight given people tend to be intoxicated by 3 a.m. But this fight stood out.
Authorities are hoping to identify the young man in the black shirt and jean shorts, directly involved in the fight, as well as the man wearing the long-sleeve white shirt and blue jeans.
Officers said one other man was believed to be part of their group.
Anyone that may know who these guys are is urged to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-8477. http://miami.cbslocal.com and other sources