An assault in downtown Olympia early Sunday is being investigated as a hate crime, the Olympia Police Department announced late Tuesday.
Since the attack, more information has come to light, leading police to investigate the assault as a hate crime involving sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Hate crimes will not be tolerated in our community,” Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts said in a statement Tuesday. “All incidents that contain any inference to hate being a motive will be thoroughly investigated by our department.”
According to Olympia police, officers were dispatched about midnight to a “disturbance” involving 10 to 13 people in the 200 block of Fourth Avenue Southeast in downtown Olympia.
Anna Schlecht, co-chairwoman of Capital City Pride, said a group of performers had left a drag show when they were heckled by a group of people on the sidewalk.
When police arrived, the crowd had dispersed, although they discovered a 29-year-old woman who suffered a broken tooth after she was apparently hit in the face, and a 51-year-old woman who was hit and suffered a scratch to her nose.
Both women are from the Tacoma area. They were treated at the scene by medics and later at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.
Police said witnesses were unclear about how the incident began, but there were reports of racial slurs and insults related to sexual orientation used between the victims and the suspects. The suspects were described as two black men — one heavy-set and one thin, according to police.
Officers searched the area Sunday and stopped a vehicle, but no suspects were found.
Schlecht, who met with Olympia Deputy Chief Aaron Jelcick on Tuesday, said she was pleased the department will investigate the incident as a hate crime and that Roberts issued a strong statement.
The LGBTQ community was initially distraught and concerned that the incident wasn’t being investigated as a hate crime, Schlecht said.
“Hopefully someone comes forward with information and the assailant is caught,” she said.
The Olympian has filed a public records request for the police report about the attack. It wasn’t immediately available because the investigation is still active, said Lt. Paul Lower, a spokesman for the department.
Anyone with information about Sunday’s incident is asked to call Olympia police at 360-753-8300. The department has two LGBTQ liaisons who assist in gathering information. They are Officer Shelby Nutter and Corrections Sgt. Ren Emerson, Lower said.