Police are investigating a report of a hate crime Saturday night outside a restaurant in San Francisco's Western Addition neighborhood after a pair of New York tourists said they were pepper-sprayed after the city's leather-clad Folsom Street Fair.
At about 7:30 p.m., Neil Frias and Jeff White, both visiting from New York for the annual fair, billed as the "world's largest leather event," were at a McDonald's restaurant near Golden Gate Avenue and Fillmore Street.
They were ordering food when two suspects rushed them, uttering homophobic slurs. Frias told the San Francisco Chronicle that one of the men told them they were "destroying family values." Then three more suspects got out of a minivan and confronted one of the victims, according to police. The suspects sprayed Frias in the face with a Mace-like substance.
"Then one guy comes out, and I thought he was going to take a swing at me, and he pepper sprays me and then takes a second can and sprays me," Frias said. "I dropped to the ground, eyes stinging, and I yelled to call the police."
Frias and White called out for help, and the suspects fled in the minivan, police said.
"It was totally unprovoked," White said. "It's amazing how unprovoked it was."
The suspects are described as five African-American men, 25 to 35 years old, according to police.
Officers responded and rendered aid to the victims. Paramedics also responded and treated the two men.
Police said they are treating the attack as a hate crime and have turned over the case to a special investigations unit. The yare also seeking the public's help in finding the suspects, who are still at large.
Supervisor Scott Wiener was equally stunned to see this type of crime in San Francisco.
"We need strict enforcement of hate crimes; we need to take this incredibly seriously," Wiener said.
Anyone with information about the incident is being asked to either call the Police Department's tip line at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and start the message with SFPD.