28-year-old licensed physical therapist and Atlanta native Joshua Dowd was attacked on July 11 in what his friends and family believe to be a hate crime. Dowd’s partner of over three years, Colin Kelly, says that he was unclear why Dowd was found in the Buckhead neighborhood — an area of the city he was not known to frequent — after he had gone out for an evening with friends in nearby Midtown.  

Neither Kelly nor Dowd’s best friend Brittany Rivera know how or why Dowd was separated from his group of friends the night of his attack.

A passerby discovered Dowd, bleeding from a head wound and barely conscience, on train tracks near one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, Piedmont Road.

In an interview with Atlanta television station WXIA, Kelly told news reporters about the latest updates from the Atlanta Police Department (APD) and doctors working on Dowd’s case.

 “Hospital employees told us this was a blunt force trauma to the head. Some sort of device hit him on the head, hard enough to crack his skull, requiring a portion of his skull to be removed to relieve pressure on it. That is an assault. This person (the attacker) is unhinged.”

The APD incident report listed Dowd’s case as a “miscellaneous/non-crime,” event, meaning an unidentified assailant and no apparent robbery attempt. Kelly, however, remains unconvinced the assault was not a racially or sexual orientation-related hate crime, pointing to the fact that Dowd still had his phone and debit card in his pockets as proof that it was more than a random encounter. “There were times, based on where he was going to go, he would change his appearance so he wouldn’t be at risk of getting attacked,” Kelly explained.

Although multiple tests have been conducted on Dowd’s wounds, doctors remain unable to determine what weapon or object was used to attack and injure Dowd hit with. 

As an out gay man, Dowd has not shied away from posting LGBTQ-related content on social media. Both Kelly and Rivera indicated people have been unkind to Dowd regarding his sexual orientation in the past, though nothing as remotely violent as this had ever occurred.

So far, over $100,000 has been raised for Dowd’s medical expenses at Grady Hosptal, and the GoFundMe page his loved ones created remains open for anyone wanting to give. It can be reached at bit.ly/3kMjo4D

The 25-year-old man who found Dowd told the APD that he had noticed several encampments near the train tracks; implying the attack may have come from a homeless person or people living around the area of the assault. 

According to updates on the GoFundMe page, Dowd has seen some continuing improvement in recent days. Friends and family have confirmed that he is breathing now without a ventilator, and he is looking around the room and blinking his eyes. No word yet as to whether a full recovery is expected, but those close to Dowd remain optimistic.

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