More than a month since the video of him violently smashing a gay couple with a chair at a barbecue restaurant in New York's Chelsea neighborhood went viral, accused attacker Bayna El-Amin has turned himself in to police, The New York Daily News reports.
Sources told the Daily News that El-Amin, 41, was being questioned by New York Police Department Hate Crime detectives after turning himself into police Tuesday. He is charged with assault and attempted assault.
El-Amin's videoed assault on gay couple Jonathan Snipes, 32, and Ethan York-Adams, 25, sparked outrage from local gay politicians Corey Johnson and Brad Holyman who were among those who gathered days after the incident at the site of the assault on 23rd Street and 8th Avenue to demonstrate support for victims of anti-gay violence.
"That level of violence is unacceptable in any community," Hoylman told WCBS 880's Peter Haskell. "We're here to stand with the victims of this horrific act of violence."
According to witness accounts, the attack allegedly started over a spilt drink and then escalated to a brawl. In the video shot by witness Isaam Sharef, it appears that El-Amin pushed and stomped on Snipes before hitting him with the chair.
Despite the video footage of the assault, El-Amin (who is 6'6" and weighs 300 pounds) claims that he was the victim and was merely protecting himself.
El-Amin's conflicting account of the incident was told in an exclusive interview with blogger Waddie G, whose G-List Society website expresses his "love of urban pup, queer & social issues." In addition to defending El-Amin, the blogger has been quick to criticize "gay media blogs and writers and New York gay politicians manipulated mainstream media, NYPD and a more-divided gay community by selfishly sensationalizing a story."
"My only thought was to facilitate an exit that they would not follow behind us because there was no one there to stop them from doing so -- or pull out a weapon out on us," El-Amin said. "There was a chair that's closest thing to me. That's why I threw it. I didn't look it as a way to maim him or use as a deadly force.
"I didn't know if [Snipes] had a weapon or not, or [that Snipes' companion] was going to join in," El-Amin continued. "I didn't know if we were going to be hurt. I didn't know if the people at my table were going to be hurt. It could have been worse. So, my reactions were more out of fear."
According to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, El-Amin is a "career criminal" with 18 prior arrests for assault, shoplifting, drug possession, credit card fraud, forgery and possession of stolen property. His 22-year arrest record spans six states.