Police ID a suspect in vicious Dallas BBQ gay bashing in Chelsea

A photo released by police of a suspect, identified as Bayna El-Amin, 41, wanted in connection with the recent assault on two gay men at the Dallas BBQ in Chelsea.

A photo released by police of a suspect, identified as Bayna El-Amin, 41, wanted in connection with the recent assault on two gay men at the Dallas BBQ in Chelsea.

BY PAUL SCHINDLER  |  Police have identified the suspect sought in connection with an assault on two gay men at the Dallas BBQ in Chelsea on May 5.

According to multiple media reports, the man named by police is Bayna El-Amin, 41, who has a lengthy rap sheet. He was previously arrested a total of 18 times — including for assault, shoplifting, drug possession, credit-card fraud, forgery and possession of stolen property — in New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Michigan, as well as New York.

According to the Daily News, Robert Boyce, chief of detectives of the New York Police Department, said El-Amin is suspected of having fled the state.

The department’s office of public information did not immediately respond to a request to confirm the information reported in other media.

Police released a photo and video footage of the suspect on May 7, two days after the attack.

The press release described the man sought as a light-skinned black man wearing a black blazer and a white shirt. A photo still in the release appears to be from a security camera, presumably in the restaurant, and is time-stamped at 10:20 p.m. on May 5, roughly 45 minutes before the man was caught on amateur video slamming a chair over the heads of Ethan York-Adams, 25, and his boyfriend, Jonathan Snipes, 32.

That assault occurred at the end of roughly one minute during which Snipes was twice seen on the floor, as the assailant, a large bald and bearded man, appeared to be kicking him. The scene was captured in a video that Isaam Sharef, a customer at Dallas BBQ, uploaded to his Instagram and YouTube pages in the hours after the assault.

Snipes sustained bruises and cuts to the right side of his face and head, including a long gash running from his ear. York-Adams was brought to the ground when hit by the chair, while Snipes sat down and appeared dazed.

As the melee unfolded, others in the restaurant broke it up on two separate occasions, with people holding the attacker back and York-Adams trying to steer Snipes away. Screams and cries of “Stop! Stop!” from the crowd can be heard throughout the video.

Snipes and police both said the two men declined medical attention after an ambulance arrived on the scene at 23rd St. on Eighth Ave.

Snipes’s mother, Trish Snipes, was contacted by Gay City News, The Villager’s sister paper, at her home in Alabama. She said her son was concerned about the cost of emergency room care, which he understood would consist primarily of overnight observation for a concussion. She expressed concern, however, that he might lose some teeth, which she said were loosened in the assault.

Jonathan Snipes told DNAinfo.com that the attack began when he accidentally knocked over a drink and, “a table near us audibly started making pretty gross comments about the two of us, like, ‘White faggots, spilling drinks.’ ” Snipes said he then confronted the men, and a fight ensued.

Hours after Gay City News posted an initial story about the attack on the evening of May 6, however, Sharef sent a message to the newspaper saying, “Snipes didn’t go to the table to confront him. He went over and punched the guy in the face. Then the guy got up and attacked him.”

Neither Snipes nor York-Adams responded to online and telephone requests for comment. Sharef did not respond to a follow-up question about whether he witnessed anything before what he described as Snipes’s first punch.

Sharon Stapel, the executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, said the incident was being investigated as bias-related by the Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

Snipes’s mother told Gay City News that her son told her that a waitress at Dallas BBQ, whom she described as having a ponytail, urged the attacker to “hurry up and leave before the police arrive.” The man in the video is seen leaving the restaurant immediately after smashing the chair over Snipes’s and York-Adams’s heads.

Eric Levine, whom the restaurant identified as its spokesperson for the incident, did not return an e-mail seeking comment on the attack and the allegation that an employee may have helped the attacker elude capture.

On May 8, state Senator Brad Hoylman and City Councilmember Corey Johnson, both openly gay Democrats who represent the neighborhood, joined a group of activists, including members of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, in front of the Dallas BBQ to hand out fliers about what they termed a hate crime. Asked if they were concerned about the allegation that Snipes, in fact, threw the first punch, Johnson noted that the police, who presumably know more about the incident than anyone else, were treating the matter as a bias crime.

“The N.Y.P.D. takes these types of incidents very seriously,” Johnson said. “At this time, they have determined this to be a hate crime… . This was a brutal, out-of-control attack. That’s unacceptable.”

“The details as we know them have shaken a lot of members of our community,” Hoylman said. “We need to let Chelsea know that we’re standing alongside the victims.”

Anyone with information about the Dallas BBQ attack or knowledge of El-Amin’s whereabouts can call the N.Y.P.D.’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 646-610-6806, visit NYPDCrimeStoppers.com, or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES), and then enter TIP577, or can call A.V.P.’s 24-hour hotline at 212-714-1141.

With reporting
by Duncan Osborne

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