By Brooke Sopelsa, NBC News
Four men were arrested Tuesday in connection with the brutal beating of a gay couple in downtown Austin last month. Police say an anonymous tip sent to their Crime Stoppers line helped them apprehend the suspects.
Frank Macias, 22, was arrested and charged yesterday morning with two counts of second-degree aggravated assault. Macias then reportedly confessed to police and implicated three others — his brother, Miguel Macias, 20; Quinn O’Connor, 21; and Kolby Monnell.
In addition to Macias, the three other suspects are also in police custody facing two counts of second-degree aggravated assault each. All four are being held on a collective $300,000 in bonds, according to local NBC affiliate KXAN.
The four men allegedly beat Spencer Deehring, 23, and Tristan Perry, 22, after the couple left a gay club holding hands in downtown Austin in the early hours of Jan. 19. The suspects are accused of hurling anti-gay slurs at Deehring and Perry before attacking them. Perry suffered a broken nose after being punched in the face and kicked in the head, and Deehring was knocked unconscious. A bystander called 911, and both men were hospitalized after the attack.
The incident shook Austin’s LGBTQ community as the city has a reputation for being a safe and welcoming place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. The attack inspired several community members to band together and form a volunteer security force. The Rainbow Patrol, as NBC News has reported, has been patrolling downtown Austin on Saturday nights. The group checks in on people, walks them to parking lots, hangs out with partygoers as they wait for ride-hailing services, and helps lost bar patrons navigate the city.
At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said she hopes to get the charges against the suspects bumped up from second-degree felonies to first-degree felonies charged as proven hate crimes. That would mean the four could face sentences ranging from five to 99 years.