Thursday, July 15, 2004

Two men held in beating outside gay bar

By Katherine Sather
Seattle Times staff reporter

Seattle police have arrested two suspects in the attack last month on Seattle resident Micah Painter outside a gay bar.
The two men, ages 19 and 20, were arrested in Bellingham on Tuesday night. They are expected to be charged tomorrow with felony assault and malicious harassment, a hate crime, which carries enhanced penalties.

Capt. Tag Gleason said the police received a tip on King County's Crime Stoppers line from a person who encountered the two men on the evening of June 27, when Painter was beaten and slashed with a broken vodka bottle.

Gleason said the two suspects are part of a group of about 10 Bellingham residents, friends and associates in their early 20s, known as bullies in the area. He said there is no indication that they are a gang.

"They've been described to us as thugs or bullies who go about the community engaging in this behavior," Gleason said.

One suspect is being held at the King County Jail while the other, 19, already was jailed in Whatcom County on a local charge. Gleason said police are expected to arrest a third suspect, a juvenile.

In most cases, The Seattle Times does not publish names of suspects until they are formally charged.

Prosecutor Mark Larson said he will review medical records and confer with Painter, 23, before pressing hate-crime charges. Larson credited the arrest to Painter's willingness to share his story of what happened and the publicity it received.

Painter, a landscaper and personal trainer, was attacked while leaving Timberline Spirits at 1828 Yale Ave., during the gay-pride weekend in Seattle. He is recovering from wounds to his back, shoulders and face.

His friend Michael McAfoose, who has organized rallies and benefits for Painter, said that Painter came forward to prevent more assaults in the Seattle gay community.

McAfoose says Painter was called derogatory names before he was attacked.

"He was afraid this was going to happen to other people," McAfoose said. He will plan another rally if the suspects go to trial.

Katherine Sather 206-464-275
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