Gay Minn. Man Brutally Assaulted at Party
A 21-year-old man from Duluth, Minn., says he was beaten last weekend after two men asked if he was gay during a graduation party, the Duluth News Tribune reported.
Max Pelofske said he attended a high school graduation party for a friend’s sister in an abandoned gravel pit in New Independence Township, which is near Duluth, a gritty far northern port city on Lake Superior.
Pelofske’s friend Kelly Johnson, 21, said he had been at the party of about 50 people for about five minutes before a teenager approached her and Pelofske.
"He told me to look him in the eyes, and I was really confused because I’d never seen the guy before," Pelofske told the newspaper. "He asked me: ’Are you gay?’ And I said, ’Yes. Is that OK?’"
Pelofske was then allegedly attacked by a group of young men who threw a beer can at his head, tossed him to the ground and kicked and punched him.
"I tried to get up, but I kept getting knocked back down," Pelofske, said. He added that the alleged attackers were "all laughing and smiling" while they beat him.
"They were trying to throw me into the fire," he said.
Johnson said there were at least nine young men who allegedly beat her friend.
"I thought they were going to kill him," Johnson said, who said the incident went on for about five or 10 minutes. She claims she tried to stop the fight but was pushed away. "I was screaming, ’Just let us leave!’"
Pelofske said he eventually managed to escape the fight and ran away. He then called 911 to report the attack and the police arrived in about 10 minutes.
Megan Bird, a high school senior who attended the party, told a different story. She claims that Pelofske started the incident after he allegedly stole drinks from the teens. One of the teens, who was later arrested, confronted the 21 year-old. Bird added that Pelofske pushed the teen then threw a bottle and hit another partygoer, who ran after him.
"But I never saw a punch land," Bird said. She claims the two were on the ground for a bit before "everyone started pulling them apart."
"I don’t recall anyone ever asking if he was gay," she added. "I never once heard that said."
Johnson, however, disagrees and insists that a large group assaulted Pelofske. She also claims that they asked police for a breathalyzer to prove they were not drunk.
Pelofske says he initially refused to go to the hospital because he does not have health insurance, but after answering questions for the police, Johnson drove him to the hospital. Medical staff insisted Pelofske get a CAT scan.
"I didn’t want one at first because of the cost," he said. "I can barely afford my cellphone bill." Pelofske said after officials looked at his results they said he "was very lucky." He says he is still sore, his ribs are bruised, his face is swollen and his back and legs are covered with footmarks.
He also said that he doesn’t want to leave his home.
"I’ve been jumped before but nothing like this has ever happened to me," he said.
The newspaper reports that two men, ages 18 and 19, were arrested but have not been charged with anything yet. The local police are currently investigating the incident.
"After they’re arraigned and charged, the assault charge should show whether it’s a crime of bias," Sgt. Brent Donahue of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department told the publication. "It’s an open investigation at this point."