Dog walker ‘beaten by felon who asked him “are you gay” on Easter’

A Florida man is urging police to charge the man who attacked him after asking if he was gay with a hate crime (Picture: WSVN / Broward Sheriff’s Office)

A South Florida dog walker who had to get 10 stitches after being punched in the face by a man who asked if he was gay says his attacker should be charged with a hate crime.

James Garcia was assaulted in what he says was a hate crime in front of his home on morning. Garcia says that Maurice Charles, 36, who spent four years in jail for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, came up behind him and beat him him.

Garcia was walking his dog Delilah when he heard someone walking and yelling not too far behind him, according to

‘As I was leaving the building, I heard from a distance, towards the ocean someone screaming,’ he said.

He was then attacked, unprovoked by a stranger.

‘He came up to me and asked me, “Are you gay?” and then punched me,’ Garcia said. ‘I didn’t respond, it just happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to react except falling down.’

The attack resulted in him needing to receive multiple stitches, including seven on his forehead and seven above his lip.

He also fractured the cartilage on both sides of his nose from the hit. He was able to identify his attacker after looking at photos of suspects provided by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

Tuesday afternoon, police officers arrested the assailant just steps from Garcia’s home. They arrested 36-year-old Maurice Antwan Charles, who has an extensive criminal history. He now faces a new charge of aggravated battery. He went to jail for four years in 2017 for the same charge.

Garcia says Charles should also face hate crime charges for the attack.

‘This is a crime of hate. Whether he was targeting me, someone else he suspected as part of the LGBTQ community,’ said Garcia. ‘Yes, definitely a crime of hate.’

Garcia added that the unprovoked attack left both physical and mental scars for him.

‘I think about it every day,’ he said. ‘I think about the attacker when I close my eyes. I can hear his voice, so those words will take time to heal.’

Fort Lauderdale police say the investigation into the attack is ongoing.

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