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911 caller says youths attacked man 'because he's Mexican'

Trayvon MartinGeorge ZimmermanMexico

A Hispanic man who says he was beaten by a group of teens in Patterson Park over the weekend remembers few details of what happened as police continue to investigate whether he was targeted because of his ethnicity after the not-guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder trial.

Emergency dispatch tapes released Tuesday describe racial motivations for the attack Sunday near Patterson Park, which police say was perpetrated by a group of black youths.

None of them refer to the Florida trial of George Zimmerman, who was acquitted late Saturday in the death of 17-year-old Martin, though a witness later told investigators she heard the assailants say the beating was "for Trayvon."

Melvin Garcia, 37, said he doesn't know why he was targeted.

"People stupid, you know?" Garcia said. "This area over here is too hard."

Garcia said he doesn't remember anything the youths said while he was beaten. He suffered abrasions in the attack and declined medical treatment. The suspects didn't take his cellphone or wallet, he said.

After interviewing Garcia twice Sunday, police didn't believe that either Trayvon Martin's or Zimmerman's name had been invoked in the assault. It wasn't until Christina Dudley, a real-estate agent, posted her personal account of the attack on Facebook that investigators decided to re-interview Garcia.

Martin was black. Zimmerman, acquitted Saturday in his death, is Hispanic.

Garcia said he was walking past a group of black males almost 24 hours after the verdict when he heard one ask, "What's up?"

Feeling threatened, he said, he pulled out his cellphone to call police when one of the males flashed a gun. Garcia ran, but the teens caught him, he said. One grabbed him by the neck of his shirt and threw him to the pavement.

At least three calls were made to police to report the incident, according to 911 dispatch records released Tuesday.

"We just saw a bunch of teenage African-Americans," a woman parked on the side of the road reported. "One of them has a gun. I guess they were chasing some Hispanic."

Another dispatch call described the assault.

"A bunch of black kids just tried to beat up a Mexican guy and was throwing him down into the street because he's Mexican," the caller told a dispatcher. "It was probably about a dozen kids and they all had him and I saw them lift him up and throw him down into the street and then go running away when I came after them and asked them what they were doing."

Police said the victim lives in the 100 block of North Potomac Street. A reporter went there Tuesday and located Garcia, who said he was the victim.

Police spokesman Sgt. Eric Kowalczyk said investigators do not know what prompted the attack. No suspects have been identified.

"We don't want to speculate about a motive at this time," Kowalczyk said. "Any crime of violence is unacceptable, and we will make sure we do everything and all that we can to bring anybody to justice."

jgeorge@baltsun.com

twitter.com/justingeorge

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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