Wichita police investigate possible hate crime after couple attacked near downtown

Wichita police investigate possible hate crime after gay couple attacked near downtown
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 7:41 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - With the help of federal investigators, the Wichita Police Department is now investigating an attack near downtown as a possible hate crime.

Nolan Nez and Cameron Berger say they were attacked after leaving J’s Lounge, on Central near Emporia. The gay Wichita couple says their attackers called them homophobic slurs, and then, started using physical violence that sent them both to the hospital.

The couple says what was supposed to be a Thursday night bar hop turned into a nightmare.

“Coming back here, and being in this place, really kind of gave me a panic attack,” said Nez.

“There was just blood everywhere,” recalls Berger. “All I could think was, we need to get you cleaned up and get to the hospital. That’s the most scared I’ve ever been.”

The pictures from that night show how serious the attack was. The couple says the suspects followed to an alleyway and attacked Berger first. The couple got away, but Nez says Berger’s glasses got lost. So, when he went back to find them and a second attack happened.

“I, like, pushed him away and said, ‘Just leave me alone, I’m trying to look for glasses.’ And I walked on, and I assume it was the same one, came up behind me and grabbed me and threw me on the ground. And I hit my temple on something over there,” said Berger.

Both men have physical scars from July 9; they are also left to deal with the emotional scars.

“I like to dress. I like a lot of colors. I have a lot of Nikes that are just crazy, different, mismatching, and now, those are things I’m like, do I have to tone down? Am I being too obvious?” Said, Nez.

J’s Lounge says it was too dark to see any video footage of the attack. A police report was filed, but officers still struggle to find the suspects.

“We are people. I am a person. I have a family. I have a fiance. I have a dog and a cat. I’m a person that loves and cares and wants to do the right thing. And I have these people that don’t think I deserve to be alive. And it hurts,” said Berger.

Wichita police say they need the community’s help to solve the crime. If you know anything about what happened, call Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111.

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