According to witnesses, a Florida man was killed early Sunday because he was standing up for his gay friends against homophobic threats and insults.
Juan Javier Cruz, 22, was at the Restaurante y Pupuseria Las Flores when another customer confronted him and his group of friends as they were leaving the restaurant, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report.
“I hate you damned gays. I’m going to kill you all here,” the man said, according to witnesses cited in the report. “If we were in my country I’d kill all of you like rats .”
Witnesses claimed that the man then pulled out a handgun and began to shoot. Cruz stepped in front of his friends to defend them and was shot and killed. Another man was shot in the ankle.
The shooter has since been identified as Nelson Hernandez Mena, who is a Honduran national. He told police that he was “very drunk” after having between 15 and 20 beers and that “he didn’t intend to hurt anyone ,” according to the Sun Sentinel.
Mena now faces charges of first-degree murder , attempted murder and aggravated assault with a firearm, according to the Palm Beach Post, though a spokesperson for the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office said that it was too early to determine whether Mena would also face hate crime charges.