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NYPD Investigates Two More Alleged Bias Attacks In Manhattan

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TWC News: NYPD Investigates Two More Alleged Bias Attacks In Manhattan
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The New York City Police Department is investigating what it says is two additional bias attacks in Manhattan this week.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the first attack happened around 10:45 p.m. Monday in the East Village.

The commissioner says it all began when a 45-year-old man met up with Roman Gronelle, 39, for drinks.

Authorities say that the victim said they've known each other for about a month.

Authorities say they shared a pitcher of sangria at the Yuca Bar, then shots and beers in a place called The Boiler Room.

After some pizza, authorities say that the victim said they were walking and talking amicably about the victim's homosexuality when investigators believe Gronelle snapped and shouted anti-gay remarks.

The alleged attacker said at first that he had family members who are gay, but then detectives say he suddenly "snapped" and beat up the other man while calling him anti-gay epithets.

"The victim was struck multiple times in the head and knocked unconscious," Kelly said.

The victim suffered wounds to his face and head.

A security guard who witnessed the attack called 911.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says that Gronelle, who remains at large, was living at the Bowery Mission for about a month and has an extensive criminal background.

Authorities say the suspect has more than 20 prior arrests, mostly drug-related.

Meanwhile, in a separate attack, Kelly says an openly gay couple was was walking down Broadway in SoHo at around 4 a.m. Tuesday when two suspects, identified as Fabian Ortiz, 32, and Pedro Jimenez, 23, began shouting anti-gay slurs at them.

Police say at some point the confrontation became physical.

Authorities say neither victim was hospitalized, though one claimed to have suffered an injury to his eye.

Both Ortiz and Jimenez were charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime.

The police commissioner said the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is investigating both cases. He also said there has been a sharp increase in anti-gay crimes in the city this year.

"Actually, hate crimes are down this year, they're down almost 30 percent, but anti-gay hate crimes are up over 70 percent. Actually, we have 29 reported so far this year, and we had 14 reported for the same period last year," Kelly said. "So obviously, this is a significant increase. We'd love to be able to give you a specific reason as to why it's up. We just don't see it."

The latest incidents took place just hours after a massive rally nearby in Greenwich Village in memory of 32-year-old Mark Carson, who was shot dead on Saturday in another apparent hate crime.

Elliott Morales, 33, was arrested moments after Carson was shot and is charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.

The mayor had a message Tuesday for anyone who commits a hate crime.

"You're going to wind up in jail for a very long time. Period," Bloomberg said. "We're going to find you, and you're going to go to jail.

Anyone with information on the latest attacks should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.

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