Attack in Utah County being investigated as possible hate-motivated crime

A 32-year-old man was attacked in American Fork early Thursday morning by three assailants who shouted gay slurs and the case is being investigated as a possible hate-motivated crime, said Sgt. Gregg Ludlow.

The attack occurred between 12:30 and 1 a.m. around the area of Center Street and 100 North in American Fork. Cameron Nelson was taken to the InstaCare where he was treated for minor injuries and released, Ludlow said. The attackers called Nelson a ‘faggot,’ along with other slurs, he said. Nelson told the Salt Lake Tribune he was taking out the trash at a hair salon where he works when he was attacked. Nelson, who is gay, said he believes he was assaulted because of his sexuality.

Nelson could not describe all of his attackers, but police are looking for one suspect who is about 5 feet 10 inches tall, has shoulder-length brown hair and was wearing cut-off pants and combat boots. Anyone with information is asked to call the American Fork Police Department at 801-763-3020.

“The remarks were disgusting and we find it repugnant,” Ludlow said. “It’s pretty early in the investigation but it’s a definite possibility that the crime could be considered a hate-related crime. The slurs were made and we promise to keep investigating until the attackers are caught. We are taking this very seriously.”

The attack is the second involving gay slurs in nearly as many weeks in Utah, and the last attack outside a Salt Lake City club left Dane Hall, 20, hospitalized for days. Hall’s assailants approached him after he left Club Sound, which was gay-themed that night, on Aug. 27. One of the assailants grabbed his shirt and began punching him in the face, he said. After Hall fell to the ground again, the attacker grabbed him, placed his mouth over the street curb and stomped on the back of head, chipping down six teeth in a move commonly referred to as ‘curb checking,’ which can result in death in many cases. Two other assailants kicked him repeatedly in the stomach, Hall said. The attackers called him a ‘faggot,’ took his identification and $40, he said.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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