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.