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UA student stabbed in reported hate crime

By Eric Swedlund
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 8, 2000
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A UA student was stabbed outside a Fourth Avenue coffee shop Sunday night in what police and witnesses called a hate crime.

Witnesses reported that a 20-year-old UA student, who is gay, was stabbed by a man within moments after he walked out to the patio area of Rainbow Planet Coffee House, 606 N. Fourth Ave.

Brandon Holmes, a Rainbow Planet employee and friend of the assaulted man, said at about 9:30, a man came from behind the student and stabbed him in the back.

Holmes said the man was shouting about "killing a fucking faggot," and that he was "out of his mind."

"This is a pure hate crime," Holmes said. "He thought he had killed him."

Tucson police arrived and captured Gary Grayson, of a general delivery address, in the area of Fourth Avenue and East Seventh Street shortly after the attack. Witnesses identified Grayson to police as the attacker.

"We arrested the suspect without incident," said Sgt. Judy Altieri, a Tucson Police spokeswoman.

Holmes said the assailant was out in the middle of the road, and police were able to apprehend him at gunpoint.

Grayson, 37, was charged with aggravated assault and booked into Pima County Jail.

Police found the knife, which Holmes said Grayson had stabbed into a planter on the sidewalk as he fled.

Police reports state the victim was transported to University Medical Center, where he was admitted and treated.

Holmes said the student had a "good-sized wound in the back," and "bled through his shirt." His back rib stopped the knife from entering a lung, Holmes added.

"I was up on the patio with him," Holmes said. "Everybody was yelling there was a stabbing."

"There was no provocation for the attack," Holmes said.

The student was released from the hospital early yesterday and is recovering at home with no permanent injury, Holmes said.

Jonna Lopez, spokeswoman for the UA Pride Alliance, said the group is planning a vigil on Sunday night - one week after the stabbing.

A march and an open mic will be the focus of the vigil, which will be on Fourth Avenue in front of the Rainbow Planet starting at 7 p.m.

"I'll do anything possible to help in the vigil," Holmes said.

Lopez added that the Pride Alliance will take donations for flowers to be given to the victim.

"We certainly consider this a hate crime," Lopez said. "There hasn't been anything this big in a long while."

David Robinson, UA assistant English professor of gay and lesbian literature, said he spoke with Pride Alliance leaders to plan the Sunday vigil after hearing of the assault.

"The idea that a few of us suggested is a protest march followed by a speak-out so that people can tell their experiences with anti-gay violence," Robinson said.

"He was stabbed for absolutely no other reason than he is gay," Robinson said. "Our response needs to be such that anyone who experiences anti-gay violence can speak out."

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