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September 26, 2008

Police seeking leads in pair of assaults


Cleveland--Police continue to follow leads in the beating and robbery of Edward “Eddie” Makar, but there are still no suspects in the assault.

Two men were arrested for another robbery near where Makar was attacked on August 30. Though the September 16 robbery did not seem to involve any anti-gay elements, the apprehended suspects fit the description of Makar’s assailants.

Police asked Makar to look at a photo line-up, but he was unable to make any positive identification.

Though the process is frustrating for him, Makar says police stay in contact frequently. He knows they are following all leads, including a string of calls from his stolen cell phone, requesting a reward for its return.

“I just want to get on with my life,” Makar commented.

Makar was stopped by three African American men on West 117th St. just south of Clifton Blvd. as he walked home from the Hawk bar around 1:30 a.m. Makar says they got out of a car, dragged him into an alley, robbed him, and beat him with a baseball bat.

During the attack, they used the slur “faggot” several times.

Less than a month earlier, Jon Brittain was pistol-whipped in an attempted carjacking by two young white men near the Tool Shed bar in Ohio City. It is believed these suspects had been targeting gay men around west side bars in Cleveland.

Though there have been rumors about possible suspects or arrests, police said there have been no arrests in either case.

According to police reports, there have been 14 robberies and felonious assaults in 2008 in the First District, which includes the Hawk bar and Cleveland’s far west neighborhoods. Out of those 14, four had gay victims.

Brittain’s attack occurred in the Second District.

Lt. Thomas Stacho, public information officer for the Cleveland Police, said these statistics don’t indicate there is necessarily an anti-gay trend. He said that despite the sexual orientation of a few of the victims, he believes the crimes indicate more opportunistic motives than strictly homophobic ones.

“We can’t say for sure there’s any targeting going on,” Stacho said.

He believes the victims of these violent robberies fit a certain profile based less on their sexuality and more on circumstance.

“These monsters get isolated victims that they see as easy pickins. They look for victims who are alone, possibly intoxicated, late at night in darkly lit areas.”

Descriptions of assailants, levels and types of violence, and even the neighborhoods where the attacks occurred are all varied.

Stacho advised against walking alone at night or becoming too inebriated when going out. He also suggests that if you do encounter any trouble, try to be as compliant as possible.

“Often the assailants just want whatever they can get, and then they want to disappear,” he noted.

Organizations within the community have mobilized to discuss the problem of violence against gays. The Cleveland LGBT Center and the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization are having a town hall meeting at Gordon Square Arcade Atrium at 6516 Detroit Avenue on Tuesday, October 7 from 6 to 8 p.m.

In the most recent robbery near one of Cleveland’s gay bars, the two arrested suspects robbed two young men around 3 a.m. September 16 near West 112th Street and Detroit Avenue, the corner where the Hawk bar sits. The victims were robbed of their wallets and then made to strip. When one victim took off running, the suspects fled.

Police later found both suspects near West 110th and Detroit. Most of the stolen property was recovered from sidewalks and bushes on West 112th Street. There was no indication that either of the two victims were gay.

This material is copyrighted by the Gay People’s Chronicle. Permission is given only to repost the headline, byline, and one or two paragraphs, with the full name of the Gay People’s Chronicle and a link to the full article on our website. Reproduction of the entire article is prohibited without specific written permission.


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