ROCK HILL, S.C. — Charlotte news station WBTV reported Monday that a gay teenager who was the victim of a brutal anti-gay attack in April was assaulted again in Sunday’s early morning hours.

On April 9, 19-year-old Joshua Esskew was walking into a local gas station when he says a man called him a gay slur. Esskew turned around to confront the man, who later hit him in the back of the head with a glass bottle. When Esskew attempted to defend himself, as many as eight other men joined in the attack. The original assailant and four others, ranging in age from 21 to 30, have been arrested and charged with aggravated assault and battery.

On May 8, Esskew was walking into a Bi-Lo when, according to a police report, a woman called him a gay slur. A verbal altercation then occured between Esskew and the woman and a man. Esskew was then pushed as he walked away. He was not injured.

FBI investigators had gathered facts and other information in the April 9 assault case. Activists and Esskew have called the attack a hate crime. The suspects in the first assault case have not been charged under federal hate crime laws.

Democratic legislators in South Carolina have renewed their push for hate crimes legislation. South Carolina is one of only a few states without any hate crimes law. Republicans, including Governor Nikki Haley, have said they are opposed.

Esskew’s attack was followed by another in Spartanburg, S.C. on May 3. There, 22-year-old Vonte Fuller says men at a local bar poured a pitcher of beer on him and hit him in the head and face with several beer bottles. He told news station WSPA that the men shouted, “I hate you faggots and … you punks are sick. And all ya’ll going to die slow.”


Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.