A Chicago man who allegedly attacked a gay couple as they walked home from a night out in Ravenswood last month has been charged with committing a felony hate crime.
James Murray, 31, repeatedly hurled anti-gay slurs during the incident, which unfolded in the 1800 block of West Leland around 11 p.m. on September 17. He was initially charged with misdemeanor battery, but prosecutors upgraded the case to a hate crime on Friday.
The 57-year-old victim, his husband, and another gay couple were saying their goodbyes outside Redline VR, 4702 North Ravenswood, when they noticed Murray and another man approaching them, apparently intoxicated, according to prosecutor Robert Mack.
After the couples hugged and kissed goodbye, they split up to head home. The victim and his husband walked a short distance, then stopped in front of a house they once thought about buying. Mack said they were either holding hands or had their arms around each other as they talked about the property.
They then heard someone yell and turned around to see Murray running across the street toward them, Mack said. Murray “made a windmill motion” and hit one man in the head.
“What are you doing?” the man asked.
“You guys are gay as hell,” Murray allegedly replied.
According to Mack, a woman walking home from work witnessed the attack and called 911.
Meanwhile, the man who had been walking with Murray earlier arrived on the scene, pushed the victim’s husband in the chest, then ran back across the street yelling “f*ggots” as the attack continued.
The victim and his husband grappled with Murray, who continued to yell “f*ggot” and tell the men they were “gay as hell” and “gay as f*ck” while punching the 57-year-old in the chest and breaking one of his ribs, Mack continued. And, although the couple is White, Murray referred to them as “n*ggers,” Mack said.
They pinned Murray, who allegedly told the men to “get your d*cks off of me,” until police arrived.
When the victims told police that they believed a hate crime had occurred, Murray allegedly said he didn’t know that they were gay and he “just likes hitting people,” Mack said.
Police did not arrest the man who was allegedly with Murray before and during the incident, Mack said.
According to his defense attorney, Murray, who has no previous felony convictions, works full-time at a car wash.
Judge Susana Ortiz ordered Murray to post a $3,000 deposit toward bail to get out of jail.