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Marines arrested in possible hate-crime incident in Long Beach

September 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Four Camp Pendleton Marines were arrested for allegedly beating a gay man outside a Long Beach bar. The incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

Authorities responded to the area of 4th Street and Redondo Avenue at 2 a.m. Monday. Police said the Marines assaulted a man outside the Silver Fox Bar.

According to investigators, the Marines hurled derogatory terms at a patron from the bar and assaulted him on the sidewalk. The injuries landed the victim in the hospital overnight.

Bar employee Charlie Harris said he came to the victim's aid when he saw one of the Marines confronting the man.

"The guy was just yelling at him, and his friend was trying to get him to leave and he was bent on fighting. He was out for blood," said Harris.

According to Harris, the Marines targeted the victim because he was gay.

"I heard a lot of talk about like, 'Do you like guys?'" said Harris.

Long Beach Police Cmdr. Joe Stilinovich said the Marines, identified as Lance Cpl. Lewis Serna, Lance Cpl. John O'Leary, Private First Class Thomas Pentek and Private First Class Sean Miller, posted bail on Tuesday.

"Any crime that is determined to be a hate crime is extremely egregious and will be investigated fully by the Long Beach Police Department," said Stilinovich.

The Marine Corps said it will also be investigating the incident.

"We are currently gathering all of the details to ensure we have a full-understanding of this incident," it said in a statement. "We are cooperating with local law enforcement officials in Long Beach with their investigation; we will also be conducting our own investigation as well."

Anyone with information was urged to call the Long Beach Police Department at (562) 570-7250.

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