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Suspect in Brutal Chelsea Restaurant Beating of Two Gay Men at Large

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Isaam Sharef's video of a Dallas BBQ customer bashing a chair over Jonathan Snipe and Ethan York-Adams heads. | ISAAM SHAREF VIA YOUTUBE.COM
Isaam Sharef's video of a Dallas BBQ customer bashing a chair over Jonathan Snipes and Ethan York-Adams' heads. | ISAAM SHAREF VIA YOUTUBE.COM

A brutal May 5 attack on two gay men at the Dallas BBQ on Eighth Avenue just above 23rd Street –– which included one of them being kicked in the face while he lay prone on the ground and moments later both having a chair bashed over their heads –– was captured on video by a customer on the scene.

Though the NYPD would only confirm that two assault complaints had been filed and an investigation was ongoing, Sharon Stapel, the executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, told Gay City News the incident, which occurred around 11 p.m. on a night when the city was celebrating Cinco de Mayo, was being investigated as bias-related by the department’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

This story is developing... and has been updated since its original posting at 6:55 p.m. on May 6.

Jonathan Snipes, 32, and his boyfriend Ethan York-Adams, identified in press reports as 25, were leaving the restaurant when Snipes accidentally knocked over a drink. DNAinfo.com quoted Snipes as saying, “A table near us audibly started making pretty gross comments about the two of us like, ‘White faggots, spilling drinks.’” Snipes told the news website that despite the fact that he weighs only 140 pounds and that one of the men making the remarks looked to be six-foot four, he confronted them over the slurs. One of the men stood up, and the incident quickly escalated.

A video shot by another customer, Isaam Sharef, who posted it to his YouTube page, captured the chaotic scene that ensued.

Hours after Gay City News first posted this story early in the evening on May 6, Sharef responded to the newspaper's queries from earlier in the day by writing, "Snipes didn't go to the table to confront him . He went over and punched the guy in the face. Then the guy got up and attacked him."

Sharef did not immediately respond to a follow-up question as to whether he had witnessed anything prior to that punch.

A large bald and bearded man appeared to be kicking Snipes on two separate occasions while the victim was on the ground. Others in the restaurant broke up the melee on several occasions, with people holding the attacker back and York-Adams trying to steer Snipes away. Screams and cries of “stop, stop” from the crowd can be heard throughout the video.

Anti-Violence Project says it's been told Hate Crimes Task Force investigating the crime

Almost a minute into the confrontation, the attacker broke free from those restraining him, picked up a chair, and bashed both Snipes and York-Adams over the head, with York-Adams appearing to take the worst of it, falling to the ground. Snipes can be seen sitting down, apparently dazed by the attack.

The Daily News reported that York-Adams “appeared” to have been unconscious on the ground for several minutes until an ambulance arrived.

A DNAinfo.com photograph of Snipes after the attack shows bruising on the right side of his head and face and a long cut running down from his ear. Snipes’ mother, Trish Snipes, who spoke to Gay City News from her home in Alabama, said her greatest concern was whether her son would lose some of his front teeth, which she said were loosened as he was kicked by his assailant.

After an ambulance arrived, the two men declined to go to the emergency room, Snipes’ mother explaining her son worried he could not afford to pay for treatment there, which would have largely involved monitoring for any concussion.

She also said her son told her that a waitress at Dallas BBQ, whom she described as having a ponytail, urged the attacker to “hurry up and leave before the police arrive.”

 

The video appears to show the attacker running around a wall of windows and then exiting the restaurant immediately after he smashed the chair over York-Adams and Snipes' heads.

Trish Snipes said her son described his assailant as an African-American, but that is not clear from the video, nor has the NYPD released a description of any suspect. Both Snipes and York-Adams are white.

Eric Levine, whom the restaurant identified as its spokesperson for the incident, did not immediately return an email seeking comment on the attack and the allegation an employee may have helped the attacker elude capture.

Neither Snipes nor York-Adams immediately returned Facebook messages and a phone call seeking comment.

Out gay City Councilmember Corey Johnson, who represents much of Manhattan’s Lower West Side, said, in a written statement, “I am appalled and angered by the senseless act of anti-LGBT hate violence that was perpetrated last night at a restaurant in my district. The fact that this attack took place in the neighborhood of Chelsea, a place known around the world for its acceptance of all people, is particularly outrageous. There must be zero tolerance of hate crimes, the most insidious of crimes as they target entire communities of people. I urge the perpetrators of this act to turn themselves in immediately.”

Anyone with information about the Dallas BBQ attack can call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers at 646-610-6806 or the AVP’s 24-hour hotline at 212-714-1141.

Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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Reader feedback

perrybrass says:
It doesn't seem to be that hard to find the perpetrators of this violence, if the police really try hard. And the waitress who told them to "leave before the cops come"—why hasn't this been addressed by anyone?
May 6, 2015, 10:28 pm
Franklin says:
There are lots of witnesses, including the staff of Dallas BBQ, obviously working hard to protect a racist homophobic violent person. That's just how some people work - protect the criminal at all costs.
May 7, 2015, 11:06 am
Freddy44 says:
Nowhere in this "report" does it mention, show or explain how the 2 gay guys are making catty, bitchy comments. Or running their smart mouth. Or that they could have been drinking heavily. Watch the video, you can hear the two gay guys still mouthing off during the fight. And then one of them turns his back to his attacker and the attacker strikes him with a chair. Pretty much a basic rule in fighting is to never turn your back on your attacker during a fight. Simply put, the two white gay guys couldn't put their money where their mouths were. Talking too much trash and couldn't back it up. They got beat up. Plain and simple.
May 7, 2015, 12:38 pm
paulschindler says:
Freddy44, Tell me who witnessed the "catty, bitchy comments." Were you there? You say it is "plain and simple." Do you have any specific knowledge about this yourself? Why can't the restaurant respond to questions about what happened and how their staff responded? As for writing off the chair attack by saying the victims were wrong to turn their backs -- well, what possible response can there be to such a ridiculous excusing of a vicious act?
May 7, 2015, 12:51 pm
Freddy44 says:
Um, yeah the catty bitchy comments are in the video if you listen closely enough. Just shut up. The guys got in a fight, the gay guys ran their mouth too much, they got beat up. Fights have been happening since the beginning of time and will continue to happen. You talk smack, you had better back your shit up. The gay community acts as if some horrific, scandalous event has happened. The other report actually quotes Snipes as saying he is a "mouthy broad". Check it. http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/davidbad...
May 7, 2015, 1:09 pm
marknyc5 says:
You really hear what you want to hear, don't you? The only word that is intelligible in the video is "Stop!" - repeatedly yelled by a woman. One of the two gay guys says something to the attacker, but it's impossible to make out what he says and no indication that it is "catty". Pretty clear where you're coming from.
May 7, 2015, 7:05 pm
Eric says:
Freddy44 your comments are as inappropriate and heinous as the actions of the coward that had to fight like a dirty coward kicking and stomping some one much smaller than he is when the person was already on the ground. that's not a fair fight - that's a cowardly assault! Just because someone calls you names and is mouthy does not give you the right to pick up a chair and hit them over the head. That is assault with a deadly weapon and I hope this out of control cowardly animal goes to jail for a really long time. If you think his behavior is justified you need a reality check about what is acceptable behavior. Behavior like this happens in movies but movies are not reality and this is illegal inappropriate criminal behavior.
May 7, 2015, 7:20 pm
Troy Masters says:
Freddy nothing, no catty bitch talk, nothing justifies the fight or the assault. The chair was potentially lethal use of force and endangered many people. There's no out here. Even if the boys were engaging him he escalated it and acted criminally. This is not a white gay thing versus a black thing. Don't muck it up.
May 7, 2015, 10:22 pm
Freddy44 says:
You're not listening or reading. The gay guys were mouthing off. Of course there's several outs here. Gay guys mouthed off to the wrong person. They tried to be bitches, and couldn't back their tough bitchy talk and they got whacked. That's what happens when you talk too much shit. Guys want to fight. Quit making this as it's some kind of gay hate crime.
May 8, 2015, 11:03 am
Freddy44 says:
Oh dear. I'm so worried that it's inappropriate and henious. Snif snif. I'm going to lose sleep over it. Snif snif. None of you are really understanding that the gay guys were mouthing off. Snipes even said he himself was a "mouthy broad". All you are seeing is that the big black man hit the gay guys and beat them up, and what a terrible horrific act it was. Oh brother. Too bad. Next time the gay guys should just stop with the bitchy, mouthing smart mouth. It's your mouth that gets you in trouble. You should really open your mind to the fact that the gay guy's smart mouth is what the problem really was. Illegal inappropriate criminal behavior. Yeah I guess. And that includes the gay guys too. Because both of the gay guys were fighting the black guy. Who struck who first? Video doesn't show it. Video just shows a fight in progress.
May 8, 2015, 11:10 am
David Ehrenstein says:
You "guess" that slamming someone in the head with a chair is "illegal and inappropriate"? It was YOU "Freddie"! It was YOU!
May 8, 2015, 1:28 pm
Troy says:
It does not matter who was mouthing off to whom or who is gay (maybe the chair basher was gay, who knows?), who hit who first, whether the 'bitchy' ones could match their words with their brute strength.....it doesn't matter. What matters is that someone attacked someone else and tried to kill them with a very heavy object. Anger is not a defense.
May 8, 2015, 5:14 pm
Rick Shur says:
For some people, a snide remark is tantamount to an attack by a crowbar, especially if it comes from an uppity person whose traditional role used to be one of abject subservience...it's like throwing alcohol on a fire. Live and loin. Best to stay away from meat-eating establishments, anyway.
May 9, 2015, 7:12 pm
Chris Eastland says:
Really I'm so worried for the matter.I wish that the 2 gay guys are arresting a suspect.And thanks to her who capture the 2 gay guys pic and video.If everyone to seen this matter you must be helped the New York Police Department.
March 20, 2017, 12:47 pm

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