The man sought by police for brutally assaulting a gay man in the East Village Monday night turned himself in late yesterday. Roman Gronell, 39, is accused of assaulting victim Dan Contarino while shouting anti-gay slurs as the two men walked on East 4th Street by Avenue D. "Are you a f------ f-----? Why are you a f-----?" Roman screamed as he repeatedly pummeled Contarino in the face and head, police sources tell the Daily News.
Luckily for Contarino, a security guard who works nearby intervened, and Gronell ran off. Contarino was hospitalized with minor injuries and released yesterday. The two men had known each other for about a month, according to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, who told reporters yesterday:
They shared a pitcher of sangria at Yuca Bar near Tompkins Square Park, and later went to the gay bar Boiler Room for "shots and beers." According to police, they then walked for pizza near 2nd Avenue and Avenue A—during this walk, around 10:45 p.m., Contarino told the suspect he was gay.
Contarino told police that the suspect, 39-year-old Roman Gornell, at first seemed to take the news in stride, saying that he had family and friends that were gay. But according to Kelly, Contarino says the suspect later "snapped and became enraged," shouting anti-gay slurs and striking him in the face.
Gronell, who has been staying at the Bowery Mission, turned himself in last night in The Bronx. The alleged beating took place hours after a large protest against a spate of anti-gay hate crimes in Manhattan, including the fatal shooting of Mark Carson in Greenwich Village.
In an interview with PIX 11, Contarino said, "Even though there have been incidents, there’s just so many hundreds of people on the street. You don’t expect this to happen. Sometimes certain people just snap, maybe its marriage equality, something on people’s minds, the anger that comes out when they drink."
And hours after Roman allegedly beat Carson, two men allegedly attacked a gay couple in SoHo after shouting homophobic slurs at them. The victim was left with a bruised eye after the altercation, which occurred on Broadway near Houston Street shortly before 5:30 a.m. Fabian Ortiz and Pedro Jiminez were subsequently arrested and charged with third degree assault as a hate crime.