Man Allegedly Assaulted by Students Calling Him Homophobic Slurs at Bus Stop; Police Investigating

The alleged assault occurred Wednesday afternoon and could have involved up to 19 students.

A 24-year-old Pacifica man claims that he was assaulted by  students at a bus stop after they called him homophobic slurs Wednesday afternoon. The  were notified Thursday and are conducting an investigation, but could not comment Friday evening on the case, said Sergeant Dave Barranti. 

The alleged victim, Brandon Moore, claims that he was punched twice in the back after being harassed by as many as 19 students.

Moore identified 13 students of the high school in a special yearbook the police keep that does not show names, and Terra Nova High School Principal Thomas Minshew and Vice Principal Brenda Morgan-Davis granted Pacifica Police access to directory information for students Friday. 

Moore, who lives near the high school, said he was waiting for a bus at the intersection of Mason Drive and Terra Nova Boulevard to go grocery shopping at 1 p.m. Wednesday. He was wearing blue jeans, heeled boots, a white trench coat and a black leather fedora hat. Nineteen students who had just been released from Terra Nova High School were also there, he said. 

“Apparently they didn’t like how I was dressed,” Moore said. "I was just listening to music in headphones, you know, and ignoring them as best I could and staring at the road and they started throwing slurs. Again, I did what any of the anti-bullying things tell you to do, you know, ignore them."

That’s when Moore said he was punched twice in the back, once below the left shoulder blade and once above the left kidney. When he recovered and turned around, the students had surrounded him.

“I wouldn’t be able to tell who was the assailant because by the time I turned around they were just in a semicircle, no one had their fists balled and no one seemed to be leading the pack,” he said.

That’s when things get fuzzy in his memory, Moore said.

“Somehow I made it back to my house [across the street from the bus stop],” he said. “I took some anxiety medication to calm down and it ended up putting me to sleep.” 

He woke up on Thursday morning at 4 a.m. vomiting blood. He feared he might have internal bleeding and about the proximity of where he’d been punched to a previous surgery site. An ambulance was called and he went to the emergency room at San Mateo County General Hospital (Medical Center).

He said medical staff found two contusions on his back but no internal bleeding. One rib had been dislocated and he had developed a stomach ulcer overnight, he said. He has a genetic predisposition to develop ulcers because he lives with Crohn’s Disease. 

“The Crohn’s Disease flared up and they're having to put me on all manner of drugs to get it in remission again and it was all due to stress,” Moore said. “And now I’m scared to use the bus anymore especially since this was the last day of school, which means they’ll [the students] be anywhere.” 

Moore, who identifies himself as homosexual, believes the alleged attack was a hate crime. He filed a report with the Pacifica Police Thursday afternoon. 

“It is very disturbing to see that people this young would attack some random stranger at a bus stop simply because of what he was wearing,” he said. “These [students] will not necessarily be the leaders of tomorrow but they’ll certainly be the voters of tomorrow, and I don’t really feel comfortable with that.”

Terra Nova High School Principal Thomas Minshew said school administrators are cooperating with the police fully, and punishment of the accused students will depend on what comes out of the police investigation.

The school has authority over students from the point they leave their homes in the morning to come to classes until when they return home in the afternoon, he said. This means that even though the incident allegedly occurred after the students were released for the day, administrators can still take punitive action against them.

"When the report comes from the police, then we’ll see what we can do on our end,” Minshew said. “If the kids did something wrong, then the consequences are there.”

Moore is considering filing a civil suit against the students for pain and suffering in addition to potential criminal charges by the police. 

He said that because of this incident, he plans on moving to Santa Cruz in a couple of weeks. 

Cris May 28, 2011 at 07:00 AM
I think our schools need more empathy training implemented, starting in elementary school, Maybe that way, by the time they are physically big enough to harm someone, they will know better. Because it is obvious the parents aren't going to step up and be moral. I am really sorry, Brandon. You did everything right. The high schoolers did everything wrong. Please don't leave Pacifica. We need more decent people like you around.
Camden Swita May 28, 2011 at 07:11 AM
Cris, when I was writing this story, I was thinking about the story I published earlier today by Suzanne Scafuri about Ingrid B. Lacy winning a Kent Award for their new advisory program that focuses on teaching students respect and empathy. When I was in elementary and middle school, no such programs existed, at least not where I grew up. Ageism, sexism, homophobia and racism were just not addressed. What a shame. It's important to note, however, that the police investigation is still ongoing here.
Deb Wong May 28, 2011 at 01:00 PM
Though this behavior isn't exclusive to Pacifica, I can understand Brandon not feeling safe there now. There is often a pack mentality and peer pressure which spurs on these hate crimes. It is unfortunate that there seem to be no outside witnesses to this attack, someone who could have called for help & identified the offenders. Chris is right that children need to be taught empathy at a young age....and that violence and bullying will not be tolerated.
Gabriela Segovia-McGahan May 28, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Cris, there are some elementary schools who are developing programs to address these concerns and implementing curriculum infused with the District's High-Five Character Traits (Honesty, Integrity, Compassion, Respect and Responsibility) as well as, the District's Non-Discrimination Policy. "The School Board is committed to equal opportunity for all individuals in education. District programs and activities shall be free from discrimination based on gender, sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, ethnic group identification, marital or parental status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation or the perception of one or more of such characteristics. The Board shall promote programs which ensure that discriminatory practices are eliminated in all district activities." For example, as Ocean Shore School has grown and introduced members of the Pacifica community from all walks of life, cultures and ethnicities, there have been the usual growing pains. While there may be a "liberal" approach to the environment, it still does not mean that people are necessarily progressive when it comes to issues of "difference". The Kent Award-winning Diversity Leadership Group, which consists of Principal Laura Shain, teachers and parents, meets monthly, keeping the California Teaching Standards in mind, to discuss the adoption of inclusive curriculum. Effecting change is not always easy or quick but is worth it. Mr. Moore shouldn't have to move to feel safe.
Gabriela Segovia-McGahan May 28, 2011 at 03:54 PM
Now, how does the District policy relate to the general community? Students and members of the school community are expected to conduct themselves with those policies and principles in mind whether they are on campus, on their way to it or on their way home from campus. It is covered in city, state and federal education code. It's just a matter of who decides to enforce the rules.
Maija Hughes Murphy May 28, 2011 at 04:24 PM
it makes me sick and sad what happened to Brandon and it must have been really scary to find himself surrounded by possibly 19 or so stupid, hateful cowards who just could not leave this man alone because of his sexual orientation. I drive past these bus stops frequently - it is frustrating no one saw this and got help but with a crowd that size around him, it may have been difficult to see one individual being attacked within their pack. I wish I could say this behaviour was a first where Terra Nova was concerned (both my children have gone there- one still) but I have been told that name calling,bullying go on fairly regularly by some students towards those who are gay/lesbian youth. My oldest daughter is lesbian and dealt with a good deal of bullies at school and definitely on the buses - that was upsetting and infuriating enough!! My youngest also deals with idiots there from time to time. To go so far as to gather a mob and physically attack on someone is beyond the pale!! NONE of this is acceptable Pacifica! I hope the investigation will be successful in catching those responsible.
Dan Druff May 28, 2011 at 05:16 PM
When I had the pleasure of attending Terra Nova and Ingrid B. Lacy, this kind of shit happened all the time to students. Bullying is rampant, especially in the Pacifica school district (whether officials and teachers will admit it or not), especially LGBTQI-related bullying. There are even some teachers who could be said to bully. I remember one math teacher repeatedly telling us we'd go nowhere in life, and spending long periods of time yelling at us instead of teaching class. If we dared ask him for supplies, he thought it was really clever/funny to give you a nasty look and to say "SUFFER!" That guy was a fucking headcase who has NO BUSINESS teaching. If the teachers observe bullying, they often ignore it. They don't expend the energy for that. That may not entirely be their fault, as teaching is a difficult job, but when there are students who are afraid to come to school or kids who feel unsafe going to and from class, something is very very wrong. I remember kids yelling out homophobic shit in class all the time and the teachers would blatantly ignore them. I even got yelled at for countering a loud and obnoxious asshole who bullied me. If you retaliate, you break the norm.
Gabriela Segovia-McGahan May 28, 2011 at 05:34 PM
I hear you, Dan. When my eldest daughter was targeted by a bully many years ago, it required a lot of research and advocacy on our part to get things turned around. I carefully read through much of the education code (U.S.D.E. / C.A.D.E. / PSD and school policies), as well as, the Shaposhnikov vs. PSD lawsuit (2004). http://articles.sfgate.com/2004-04-16/bay-area/17421198_1_straight-a-students-school-officials I also referenced the passages that cover bullying as a barrier to learning in the UCLA School Mental Health Project website: http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/ In general, it would be great to see school systems that take a PROactive versus REactive approach to learning environments. Because, as Mr. Moore said, "“It is very disturbing to see that people this young would attack some random stranger at a bus stop simply because of what he was wearing,” he said. “These [students] will not necessarily be the leaders of tomorrow but they’ll certainly be the voters of tomorrow, and I don’t really feel comfortable with that.”
Suzanne Scafuri May 28, 2011 at 06:58 PM
Indeed, bullying, in any form should not be tolerated-- especially in schools. As I have written in past articles, I was a victim of bullying myself, and in studying bullying motivation to further understand why students behave in such ways to each other, I found that it all has to do with power. In middle school, students are at an age where they want to have power but, being 12-14, they really don't have the opportunity to make decisions for themselves. Bullies crave power, the power especially to be in control. Therefore, the only way to eradicate bullying is to take away the power, to make it not cool to tease, to not tolerate name-calling in any form, to educate students, parents and teachers that "I was just kidding" isn't an excuse, to teach empathy and model understanding of different ethnicities, religions, gender, sexual identity, and social groups, and to take the hard line when bullying occurs. Many schools are terrified to stick by rules about bullying, saying that every situation is different. This is where the problem starts. There has to be a standard that is both supportive and corrective so students can take responsibility for their mistakes while learning in the process.
Suzanne Scafuri May 28, 2011 at 09:03 PM
Yes, it is wonderful that IBL and Ocean Shore are making concerted efforts to address bullying through their Diversity Day and advisory groups. Teaching tolerance starts with discussion and awareness and these schools are giving students amazing learning opportunities.
Alan Beim May 28, 2011 at 09:55 PM
How can people, no matter how young they are take the stupid and wrong side of history and act like little Hitlers, members of the KKK, people who exploited the Indians or Blacks, when this side has been proven wrong?? Where was the one brave and intelligent high school student that would stand up against this injustice?
Dan Druff May 28, 2011 at 10:01 PM
I remember firsthand the Shaposhnikov vs PSD when it was happening. It was a really big deal to the students at IBL. It was a step in the right direction. However, you have to remember that not everyone who is victimized has the money that the Shaposhnikov family has. It was a step in the right direction, but I feel like the message was more like "Don't fuck with people who have money" rather than "Don't fuck with people". I remember even in IBL, a lot of the students resented the kid who was being bullied because he had big money backing him. It was sad. I don't blame him for using what was in his power to fight back. Hell, I would have encouraged my guardians to do the same had they the power to do so. I just wish they had fought as hard for the schools to work in a zero-tolerance attitude toward bullying- because while the Shaposhnikov's had their case, I was getting mercilessly bullied and didn't know who to turn to. The big thing about the case was that the mere PERCEPTION of other students was something that could make you a target. The moment you stepped out of gender roles, the moment you looked like part of the queer community, the moment you wore something someone didn't like- all of that shit could get you hassled, and it was easier trying to blend than listening to some dumbass call you a fag at the back of the class.
Lynn Schuette May 29, 2011 at 01:51 AM
Brandon: so sorry you had to deal with this. The people who did this to you are cowards -- as cowardly and stupid as the thugs who beat up Bryan Stowe. I hope they are caught and made an example of by the school. By the way -- parents like me look at stories like this and make choices on where their children will go based on what schools do or don't do. As far as I'm concerned, my son will not be going to Terra Nova when he is old enough for high school exactly because of incidents like this. School administrators need to wake up and hold not only the kids accountable, but also their parents.
Jim Farris May 29, 2011 at 03:43 AM
Yes, Brandon did all the right things. I know Brandon and he's not the kind of person to file a false claim of this nature -- he has enough going on in his life not to have to deal with all this without a good reason. I hope the jerks that did this to him get the full extent of whatever the law can dish out. Brandon, stay strong, you have friends out there!
Timothy Lunceford May 29, 2011 at 04:33 AM
Brandon. I send my wish for recovery. I too have Crohn's and hope you get well soon. I am glad you took action and handled the situation the best way you could. You are a great role model for others. Be well. Timothy in New York.
Cris May 30, 2011 at 11:35 PM
Gabriela, it is good to hear schools are finally starting to address this at an early age. My kids attend IBL and Ortega, and I have to say that the diversity day is a great idea, but it really has to be done at a younger age. By the time kids are in middle school, they are likely to have already set their ideas on who they want to be. In grade school, we still have so many possibilities. Lynn, That was my first reaction, too. My 7th grader will not be going to Terra Nova. We were starting research on schools, and were on the fence, but this pushed me towards Oceana.
CQ May 31, 2011 at 05:58 PM
If Brandon is quoted in the article says he can't identify anyone, then why are TN students being targeted? Seniors graduation practice was over before 10 Am and the lower grades finished finals testing at 1246 PM before leaving campus. Sounds suspicious...
Rocky May 31, 2011 at 06:24 PM
"If Brandon is quoted in the article says he can't identify anyone, then why are TN students being targeted?" "Moore identified 13 students of the high school in a special yearbook the police keep that does not show names."
CQ May 31, 2011 at 07:54 PM
"“I wouldn’t be able to tell who was the assailant...", he said.", a direct quote in the article... Which is it? Identify one or 13 out of a reported 19 who may or may not have been there and just passing on a sidewalk not involved in any criminal activity, from a yearbook photobook. Were other school's yearbooks also included? Neighbors and Samtrans bus passengers/drivers contacted? Passing motorists on a similar day or time contacted as possible witnesses? TN's reputation of good students unfairly being targeted? Did something else happen to the victim at a different date, time, and location? The reported facts in this case are already raising severe doubts for any prosecutable review by a district attorney or jury's appeal as to the credibility of the victim's account combined with his existing usage of psych. medication(s). Only further investigation will tell and those falsely accused who were clearly at a different location receiving a public retraction in the media.
Camden Swita May 31, 2011 at 07:59 PM
You mean a public retraction by the alleged victim?
Alan Beim May 31, 2011 at 08:23 PM
People, stop and think! Go back and read this first post. Mr. Moore, the victim said that he can id most of the crowd, he is just unsure of who exactly was the one single person out of the 13 who hit him from behind, but all of the other students saw it and can testify as to who the one was that did hit him.
Bruce Hotchkiss June 01, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Don't you think the parents have a role in teaching morals and ethics to their children? Why is it the schools responsibility?
Rocky June 01, 2011 at 03:20 PM
What do we do when the parents don't teach morals and ethics to their children? Shouldn't the schools do something, if they can?
Bruce Hotchkiss June 01, 2011 at 03:25 PM
Yes but it should not be the primary job of a school, that is what I was getting at. Cris made it seem as if this was a failure of the school system when it is a failure of our society, at least in my opinion.
Gabriela Segovia-McGahan June 01, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Bruce, I will begin by saying that I don't have all the answers or the answer of all answers. As far as I can tell, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. On the first question, (my opinion is) yes. Is it always done? Not necessarily which brings us to the second question you asked. While we don't use this program, they briefly speak to the "why": http://www.socialsmarts.com/why.cfm When character-building does not happen at home, it becomes obvious in the classrooms (which should be safe and focused learning environments) and playgrounds. In general, it is the responsibility of all of the adults who interact with our children on a regular basis to prepare them for their role in society. In most cases, teachers (second to parents) are the adults who spend a large portion of the day with children. At OSS, the Diversity Leadership Group offers a family-based curriculum to reinforce the character building expectations that our district has spelled out for us. As a school heavy on parent participation, we do our best to ensure that students understand what they're being asked of by the district. What do the District's High-Five Character Traits (Honesty, Integrity, Compassion, Respect and Responsibility) as well as, the District's Non-Discrimination Policy mean? We lay it out in ways that enhance the existing curriculum and for students to grasp the concepts not just in theory but in practice. The responsibility is shared.
Bruce Hotchkiss June 01, 2011 at 04:24 PM
It would seem to me, admittedly as a non-parent, that we as a society fail in far too many ways. Far too many children are lacking in morals, ethics, and academic learning. I have not seen any studies but a completely non-scientific observation seems to say that a huge number (large minority) of school age kids are falling further and further behind in everything. There is something fundamentally wrong with our society I think that schools alone cannot fix. Although there are some programs and schools that are terrific they do not reach the majority. At least that is my opinion.
Corinne Gregory June 01, 2011 at 09:33 PM
Gabriela alerted me to this incident. In reading the many comments, I felt I had to share a perspective. As she points out, we typically take a reactive approach to problems like this, when we really need to be more proactive to work with our kids to keep these kinds of behaviors from happening. These are not necessarily "bad kids" or are they unique. Along the way, in their growing up, they have either failed to learn even the basics of the Golden Rule -- "Treat others the way you want to treat them" -- or they were desensitized to intrinsic empathy, compassion and consideration. We are now forced to teach these things because we can no longer depend that our young people will come into the school system with ANY lowest common denomiator of social skills, character and education. And, the negative impacts are felt in all aspects of our education system and our community -- from disrespect and disruption in the classroom to bullying, teacher attrition and more. Rather than overwhelm this area, I'd invite you to visit the SocialSmarts blog on this topic at http://socialsmarts.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/to-end-bullying-requires-a-cultural-change/ Know, too that our organization has made a committment to donating our program to up to 1,000 schools across the country if they are interested in improving school culture and students' social skills, but just feel they can't afford it. More details at www.socialsmarts.com. - Corinne Gregory www.corinnegregory.com
CQ June 02, 2011 at 09:34 PM
Yes, if what he said was false. Otherwise, a follow-up article of the facts found after criminal conviction.
Dan Druff October 28, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Because these bigoted attitudes are often protected as "opinions" instead of being exposed as dangerous and cruel. Television shows like South Park and Family Guy teach kids that racism, homophobia, and sexism is funny and entertaining and edgy because it is forbidden in most professional places, and that people are "too sensitive" if they say they don't like it.
Dan Druff October 28, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Anti-bullying campaigns are a great idea, but often I find that they can shame people for being bullied ("Why didn't you say something? Why didn't you talk to a counselor? Just ignore them!"). The worst part is that if kids try to take matters into their own hands, the school often gets angry because they want to have the final say, and they punish the kids.


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