A Yaletown woman says she may have witnessed the attack on Chad Wilkinson, the gay man who was allegedly punched and kicked in the head by four men at the corner of Davie and Richards Sts in the early morning hours of Nov 8.
Sharon H (who requested anonymity for fear of repercussions) says she also saw the license plate number of a silver Audi the alleged attackers drove off in, and called it in to police the same night as the bashing.
So far police have made no arrests, but Det Tim Houchen of the Hate Crimes Unit says they now have “a person of interest” in the case.
“We have someone who we’re looking at who is certainly a person of interest” in connection with the incident, Houchen says, “and it’s just a matter of finding that individual and having good evidence that we can corroborate with witnesses that we have the right person.”
Sharon H told Xtra West Dec 5 that she recalled the attack on Wilkinson after reading an account of it last issue and recognizing him from the accompanying photo.
She says the details of Wilkinson’s story are similar to an incident she recently observed out of her apartment window.
What jogged her memory of the incident, she says, was Wilkinson’s comment about losing his shoe during the attack.
“That’s what triggered me,” she recalls, “because his shoe went flying off and he was like, ‘Let me get my fucking shoe, you assholes.'”
Wilkinson told Xtra West Nov 27 that he lost his shoe during an attack in which he alleges a man called him a faggot then steered him towards several other men standing at the corner of Davie and Richards.
Wilkinson alleges the group called him a faggot “a couple times” before a fourth man chest-bumped him from behind.
As Wilkinson turned to see who bumped him, the other three men allegedly began hitting him in the back of his head.
Wilkinson says he fell to the ground and was kicked in the head repeatedly, but eventually managed to get up and fight back.
“One of my shoes was off and I just said, ‘This is fucked.’ And I grabbed my shoe and I just went home,” he later told Xtra West.
Sharon H, who has lived in the area for two years, says there are often fights and yelling on the streets at night, which she generally tries to ignore.
But when she heard “smacking noises” that Saturday night she decided to get up and investigate.
“The thing that they were doing is, these guys, they were harassing him,” Sharon H alleges. “He was just trying to go home and they weren’t letting him walk down the street. And he was like, ‘Just let me go home.’
“They were acting like it was their sidewalk and that he had to ask them permission to walk down the sidewalk,” she further alleges. “They were totally antagonizing him, and he tried to fight back like he said he did, and they all jumped on him and it was totally ridiculous.”
Sharon H says she couldn’t hear whether Wilkinson was called a faggot. But she remembers another group of men came up and told the alleged attackers, “There’s three of you on one guy.” She says the alleged attackers continued the beating anyway.
That’s when she decided to intervene.
“I yelled out the window and I said, ‘That’s not a fair fight, get off him, or I’m calling 911,'” Sharon H recalls, but says the men didn’t hear her.
So she repeated her threat to call the police more loudly and that’s when they stopped.
She says she “could totally ID” the alleged attackers.
“They were the classic little posse of dudes —one bigger guy, one little skinny guy and one guy who was really dressed all snazzy and the victim got a good punch into him, [because] his nose was bleeding,” she recalls.
Sharon H also alleges that a young woman was standing near a silver Audi with red license plate numbers, “watching the whole thing.”
“She kept saying, ‘C’mon you guys, we better get outta here, we better get outta here,'” Sharon H remembers, noting that the men eventually got into the car which the woman drove.
“I took the license plate down of the car and I called the [police] non-emergency number,” she says.
By then, she says, Wilkinson had managed to walk away so she opted to call the non-emergency police line rather than 911.
“Everybody had gone their separate ways and Chad was walking,” she recalls. “He got his stuff and he was walking. If he wasn’t walking, I would have called 911,” she adds.
Sharon H says the person on the non-emergency line who took her call was happy that she got the car’s license plate number and make.
But the information did not reach investigators right away.
“Maybe there’s some kind of wire cross,” Sharon H speculated Dec 5. “Maybe they didn’t connect that call with this incident.”
Houchen says there was a lag in making the connection because of the volume of calls received the night of Wilkinson’s alleged gaybashing.
“One of the things is that we get a lot of calls when it’s a busy Saturday night; a lot of the analysis will happen afterwards. So that’s kind of where we are now, we’re just kind of piecing it all together. But I have certainly spoken to the witness and it looks like we’ve got some really good information.”
Sharon H confirms that she has spoken to Houchen and will be sending him a statement. “He said it would be very helpful,” she says, adding that he “seemed pretty concerned about it all.”
Houchen has classified the incident as a hate crime.
For his part, Wilkinson welcomes the new developments. “That’s good to know that somebody was actually able to witness it,” he says, hoping to see his alleged attackers held accountable for their actions.