Las Vegas tourist fights homophobic attack with love
He was attacked for being gay.
While the details of the evening are troubling, how the victim reacted was unexpected.
The incident happened Sunday inside the parking garage at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
Harsh words led to a flash of violence. The story eventually took an unexpected twist.
Darnell Morgan said he was in Las Vegas for his sister’s wedding.
"My sister got actually married on Saturday. It was about 40 of us in town for her wedding," said Morgan.
The day quickly turned dark. Morgan says he hoped it was his imagination.
“There was a comment that was made, 'oh there that f***** goes there,'" said Morgan.
Morgan is an openly gay nurse from Atlanta, Georgia. The suspects were complete strangers.
“I started laughing because in my mind, it's 2018, and gay slurs like that should not be said,” he continued.
The verbal comeback led to punches and five men in handcuffs.
Keron Cumberbatch, Eidryce Marks, Rashon Wiggins, Damion Campbell and Aaron Bob-Goldman are facing hate crime charges.
All five posted bond and were released from jail.
Morgan doesn’t want them charged. But it might not be up to him. The case is now in the hands of the Clark County District Attorney.
Instead, Morgan wants the suspects to learn their lesson by volunteering at their local gay and lesbian center.
“The only way to combat hate is love, and if you show that compassion to others, you educate them on the gay lifestyle,” said Morgan.
Andre Wade, the executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, said it’s the right response.
“You know what I thought? That's a really mature way of seeing things,” said Andre Wade.
Wade said a conversation about compassion can be more powerful than punishment.
“We hope there are some lightbulb moments,” noted Wade.
“No one should be taunted because of their sexuality,” explained Morgan.
Morgan said he believes in second chances.
In fact, a heart-to-heart with one of his accused attackers even led to an apology.
“He said hey man, I'm sorry, I don't know how this blew out of proportion. I don't know how the fight started,” explained Morgan.
“That meant the entire world to me. Just to hear those words, meant the world to me,” he continued.