WelcomeTo My World

Saturday, 30 April 2011

by JEFF CAMPBELL / NewsChannel 36
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Investigators have arrested five men for the alleged assault of a 19-year-old openly gay man outside a Rock Hill convenience store on April 9.

Bobby Wilson, Cortezio Douglas, LaJames Mitchell, Darenco Wilmore and Lortarius Duncan have all been charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years behind bars.
The victim of the attack, 19-year-old Joshua Esskew, told NewsChannel 36 that he believes he was attacked because of his sexual orientation.

“I believe it was a hate crime. I believe, you know, they do not agree with my lifestyle,” Esskew said just days after the attack.

The attack was captured on surveillance video from the Spot Convenience Store on Cherry Road.

According to the York County Sheriff’s Office, 19-year-old Joshua Esskew got into a verbal altercation with 30-year-old Bobby Wilson. Detectives say Wilson hit Esskew over the head with a 40-ounce beer bottle.

The surveillance video shows several other suspects running toward the fight, joining the attack against Esskew.

Esskew was hospitalized overnight with trauma to the brain, bleeding to his head and mouth, and significant swelling around his right eye.

The 19-year-old was not available to talk with us after the arrests were made. However, we did talk with Esskew’s friend, Da-Neshia Reid, who was there the night of the attack.

“We both are very, very relieved,” Reid said.

Reid told NewsChannel 36 that Esskew is doing better and that he is raising awareness about the attack against him.

The surveillance video from the convenience store shows far more than five people in the vicinity of the fight. Detectives with the York County Sheriff’s Office say their investigation determined that only the five men arrested actually took part in the fight.

The FBI has also joined the investigation. It plans to hand over its case to the Department of Justice to determine whether any hate crimes charges will be filed.

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