Phoenix DJ Austin Head's Assault Designated as Anti-Gay Hate Crime

Police say the assault of Phoenix DJ, activist, and former New Times clubs editor Austin Head and a friend -- which was detailed this morning on our music blog, Up on the Sun -- was an anti-gay hate crime.

Phoenix police Sergeant Steve Martos says the case has been designated as a "bias crime," and the charges have been upgraded a bit for the two alleged attackers.

See also:
-Phoenix DJ Austin Head Injured in Hate Crime Assault

Police say officers responded to the assault call near Central Avenue and Osborn Road around 2 a.m. Friday, and police believed it could have been a hate crime from the get-go.

"Two men targeted us for appearing 'gay' and [yelled] homophobic slurs," Head told New Times. "I was on my bike and my friend was on foot. He was a bit behind, so I stopped and waited on the corner for him to catch up when they crossed the street yelling slurs. They then attacked us both as we tried to flee with my friend attempting to get on the handle bars. They pushed us off the bike then proceeded with punching. I was knocked unconscious and eventually taken to the hospital by ambulance."

Jermon Barnes, 22, and Ernie Barnes 24, were arrested shortly after the attack, and were both jailed on assault charges.

Now, Martos says the Barnses will be charged with aggravated assault, which is a felony charge.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley