Woman attacked in hate crime; community forum scheduled

A man used a pocketknife, a black marker and a dog leash to attack a 45-year-old lesbian as she walked down a Tacoma street early Sunday, police said Monday.

In response to the attack — which police have termed a hate crime — community leaders, Oasis Youth Center and Rainbow Center will take part in a community discussion Saturday.

The Rainbow Center is Tacoma’s drop-in support and resource center for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The Oasis center supports LGBT youths ages 14-24.

“When I saw the report, I was very dismayed that something like that could happen in our community,” Tacoma City Councilman Ryan Mello, one of the discussion organizers, said Monday. “The community wants to have a place to come together to express their disgust and say ... ‘That’s not who we are as Tacomans.’ ”

Saturday’s forum will include comments from community leaders and updates from law enforcement. Organizers said it will provide a safe place to offer support to the victim, “engage in healing dialogue” and hear from resource providers.

Police said they were searching for the attacker, who they said had been dressed in Seattle Seahawks gear and likely was drunk.

The victim was still recovering from her injuries, which included multiple puncture wounds and lacerations. The man also stripped off the woman’s clothes and wrote the word “dyke” with a black marker and ballpoint pen on her left buttock and back, police said.

They gave this account:

The woman was attacked just before 3 a.m. Sunday after she left her home when her dog slipped out of the house. She grabbed the dog’s leash and went searching for him.

As she walked in the 900 block of East 51st Street, she passed a man and asked if he’d seen a dog run by. The man pointed in the opposite direction.

The woman followed his directions and heard footsteps behind her just as she was knocked to the ground. Her attacker kept asking why she sounded like a girl.

“Are you a dyke?” he asked. “God hates fags.”

The man used a pocketknife to stab the woman in her breast, jaw, left forearm and left thigh. Then he tore away her clothes and wrote on her body.

“The suspect then grabbed the dog leash she was carrying and placed it around her neck and dragged her across the ground,” police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.

Detectives believe the attacker was scared off because the dog either appeared and began barking or tried to defend the woman. The dog was at the scene when police arrived and found the woman lying in the street.

Neighbors who heard the woman screaming and a dog barking called 911.

She was taken to an area hospital. She said she does not know her attacker, Cool said.

The man was described as chubby-faced, about 25, possibly Hispanic and with a Spanish accent. He was dressed in a dark Seahawks hooded sweatshirt and a Seahawks hat worn backward.