News

Med student victim of hate crime

Last Friday at around three a.m., two men shouted homophobic slurs at a Georgetown University medical student, and one struck him across the face with a Grey Goose Vodka bottle.

According to the student, the two men, who seemed to have been drinking, accosted him and his friend on the 1100 Block of 34th Street and asked if they were gay. When he answered, “Yes,” the student said, one yelled, “being gay is wrong,” and they told him he deserved to be dead. The student said a few minutes of profane comments followed.

The student and his friend then walked away toward the C & O Canal, he said, but the suspects pursued them, one wielding the bottle.

“The next thing I knew I was in the ambulance,” he said.

He was taken to and treated at the Georgetown University Hospital.

The Metropolitan Police Department immediately responded to the incident, according to the student, and arrested two suspects within ten minutes. The suspects physically resisted arrest, yelled racial slurs at their arresting officers, threatening to kill them.

Ruddad Abdulgader and Saad Elarch, whom the MPD has identified as the two suspects, appeared at a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, according to the student. He added that they were held without bond and charged with aggravated assault. The student said a basic internet search revealed that Abdulgader faced an assault and robbery charge in Virginia from earlier in the year.

“And this guy’s still on the streets,” he said.

He added that he learned that Elorch is on probation in Virginia for a drug conviction and has a bribery conviction from 2004.

The student said that since Washington, D.C. has a law under which people can be prosecuted for hate crimes, it is possible that the two aggressors will face longer jail time than if they had been charged only with aggravated assault.

Sivagami Subbaraman, the head of Georgetown’s newly created LGBTQ Center, said she called the student and offered him the Center’s full resources. While the Center is typically geared toward undergraduate students, it is open to all members of the Georgetown community.

“The University is supporting him. He was very happy the men were arrested,” she said.

Subbaraman noted that recently, there has been an increase in the number of homophobic crimes in Washington, D.C.

“I wish I could attribute this increase to a certain factor. There seems to be no reason for people’s anger,” she said.

Jack Harrison (SFS `09), the co-chair of GU Pride, said that his organization is interested in getting more involved with graduate students in the D.C. community at large.

The medical student, who is still having trouble eating and sleeping and experiencing headaches, said he felt lucky that he had not been struck in a more vital place, and that he was not alone when attacked. However, he pointed out that he and his friend did not say or do anything to provoke the two men.

“I was very much attacked because of my identity and of who I am,” he said. “We were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”