A man whose boyfriend came to visit was assaulted by another resident in a group home, according to Burlington police.
The incident was one of 23 hate crimes based on sexual orientation that were reported from North Carolina for inclusion in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 2014.
“This other guy living in the home somehow got a BB gun and shot him in the back,” said Capt. Chris Verdeck of the Burlington Police Department.
Verdeck said the attacker, Tony Lee Patterson, did it because “he didn’t agree” with the sexual orientation of the victim, Andrew Wynn. Patterson allegedly told Wynn he didn’t want “that faggot coming around,” Verdeck said.
“That’s what turned it into a hate crime,” Verdeck said. He said Wynn suffered a small abrasion on his back.
Patterson pleaded guilty to assault and resisting an officer, according to court records, and was sentenced to 120 days in prison. Neither Patterson nor Wynn could be reached for comment.
North Carolina’s hate crime statute does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. So police did not have the option of charging the assailant with a hate crime, which carries a stiffer penalty.
For a North Carolina case to be prosecuted as a hate crime, the federal government has to bring charges under the Matthew Shepard Act, named for a student who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming. Since the law took effect in 2009, no one has been charged in North Carolina.
“It’s easy to prove I socked you in nose – it’s a lot of harder to say why did I do it,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes.