LONG BEACH, Calif. - The beating of a gay man outside a bar resulted in the arrest of four Camp Pendleton Marines and was being investigated as a potential hate crime, Marine Corps and police officials said Wednesday.
The Marines entered the Silver Fox just before closing time early Monday and seemed visibly uncomfortable, bar manager John Barnes told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. One of the Marines made a demeaning remark - calling the bartender "sweetheart" - before he and the other Marines jumped a young man, Barnes said.
Long Beach police said a preliminary investigation found that the four Marines attacked the man just after leaving the bar. Two other men who tried to help the victim were also attacked, police told the newspaper.
Long Beach police Cmdr. Joe Stilnovich said at least one of the suspects used derogatory terms regarding the victim's sexual orientation, U-T San Diego reported.
The Marines were arrested just after the incident. They have since made bail and returned to their units, Camp Pendleton spokesman Maj. Manuel J. Delarosa said. Military officials were assisting Long Beach police and the Marine Corps was conducting its own probe, he said.
"This is an isolated incident," Delarosa said. "Committing any hate crime is unacceptable behavior and is not tolerated in the Marine Corps."
The victim was treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, Long Beach police spokeswoman Lisa Massacani said. The two others who tried to help the victim suffered minor injuries.
Neither Massacani nor Delarosa gave specifics on why it was being considered a possible hate crime.
Arrested were Lance Cpl. Lewis Serna; Pfc. Thomas Pentek; Pfc. Sean Miller and Lance Cpl. John O'Leary. Authorities were trying to determine each person's role in the assault, Stilnovich said.
The four Marines could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.