Gang rape may have been hate crime


Police described the attack as life-altering, shocking and brutal.

A 28-year-old woman parked her car along a residential street in Richmond's Belding-Wood Neighborhood near the end of the BART line last Saturday night. It was 9:30 p.m. As she walked away, police say a man aggressively approached her.

"He physically assaulted her with a blunt object, striking her on the head. He robbed her and disrobed her and began sexually assaulting her there on the street," said Lt. Mark Gagan, with the Richmond Police Department.

Three other suspects warned someone was coming. They forced the woman into her car and drove her seven blocks, to a dead end section of Burbeck Avenue. There police say she was repeatedly sexually assaulted, then dragged out of the car to some abandoned apartments, where the assault continued.

"The most disturbing aspect of this is during the sexual assault, the suspects were saying things about her sexual orientation, which we believe has now made this a hate crime. Our victim is a lesbian who is openly gay. On her car are stickers supporting the gay community," said Lt. Gagan.

The suspects drove off in her car. The victim, naked and seriously injured, found help and was hospitalized.

"This case seems a bit more unusual because it's very public. It was a gang rape in which the survivor chose to come forward, which is a very courageous act," said Tina D'Elia, from Community United Against Violence.

Armed with substantial physical evidence, police are looking for four suspects.

"The unique thing about this is there were three Hispanics and one black male involved in the sexual assault. That's unique. That coupled with the fact that one had the nickname 'Pato', who was a Hispanic male, and the black male's nickname was 'Blue.' We're hoping those facts will allow someone to say, 'Hey I know those guys,'" said Gagan.

The victim is now out of the hospital.

Even seasoned detectives say they are deeply disturbed as they investigate this crime. They describe it as very vicious in nature and are anxious to get to who and where those suspects are.

Richmond Police are pleading for the community to come forward and call in with any tips or information.

Anyone with information about any of the suspects is asked to call Detective Ysenia Rogers at (510) 672-1718.

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