A Nebraska community is rallying in response to a violent home invasion and assault which many have alleged was an anti-gay hate crime.
The Lincoln Journal Star reports that a Lincoln woman, whose name has not been released, told police she was attacked over the weekend by three masked men who broke into her home and bound her with zip ties before carving homophobic slurs into her skin, dumping gasoline on her floor and lighting it with a match.
Immediately following the assault, the woman, who is in her 30s, managed to walk to a neighbor's home to get help, friend Erin Thompson told the Omaha World-Herald. Thompson confirmed that the victim is a lesbian and also noted that three anti-gay epithets, including the word "dyke," were carved on the woman’s arms and stomach. Other friends told local ABC news affilate KLKN-TV that anti-gay slurs were also found spraypainted throughout the woman's basement.
Though investigators said it was too early to determine whether or not the assault was a hate crime, a local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights organization nonetheless said in a statement that officials have "full faith" in police efforts.
"We are shocked and saddened by the report of an alleged hate crime involving a member of the LGBT community early Sunday morning," Outlinc president Tyler Richard is quoted by the Wisconsin Gazette as saying. "Our hearts go out the the victim, her family and close friends. Many in our community are understandably experiencing a great deal of sadness, anger and confusion. We look to our entire community to pull together in this difficult time."
Another anonymous friend told KLKN-TV, "When someone takes the time to hand cuff someone with a zip tie and carve derogatory comments or words into somebody else's body, that's sheer hate and at this point, this is a hate crime."
A candlelight vigil in honor of the victim was held at the State Capitol on Sunday night, and drew more than 500 people, according to the Journal Star.