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New York police make arrest in apparent anti-gay attack

By Julie Cannold, CNN
updated 2:11 AM EDT, Wed September 18, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lanier is charged with assault as a hate crime
  • Police are still looking for a second suspect
  • The victims were apparently holding hands at the time of the attack

New York (CNN) -- A man who allegedly attacked two others last month because he perceived them as gay has been arrested.

Alfonso Lanier, 23, was charged Tuesday with aggravated harassment and assault as a hate crime, the New York Police Department said.

Authorities are still looking for a second suspect.

The assault took place August 14 in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. The attackers used derogatory words about the victims' sexual orientations, New York Police Detective Marc Nell said.

"It makes me sick to my stomach," Michael Felenchak, one of the victims, told CNN affiliate WABC at the time. "It scares me. It upsets me. It's really awful."

Felenchak, 27, had to have multiple stitches on his chin and suffered scrapes across his stomach from the attack.

"First they punched me so hard, I feel brass knuckles," the other victim, Peter Nortman, 53, told WABC. "Then I fell on the floor, and I jumped back up and I got hit again. And then I tried to pull them down."

The attack brought New York community leaders together to raise awareness.

New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn handed out flyers to spread the word about what police called a hate crime attack.

"I am appalled by reports that two men were senselessly beaten in Chelsea simply because they were perceived to be gay," Quinn said. She said the pair were holding hands at the time of the attack.

It wasn't clear early Wednesday morning whether Lanier had retained a lawyer.

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