Three men attacked outside Johnson City gay bar


It’s being classified as a simple assault, but two Johnson City men attacked outside a gay bar want to see the attack pursued as a hate crime.

Johnathan Smith, 29, and Matt Widner, 20, both of Johnson City, and Russell Onks, 40, of Knoxville, were attacked by two men in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Aug. 20, outside of New Beginnings, a Johnson City gay bar.

The three men were talking in the parking after leaving the bar when two men approached them in a pickup truck. They parked the truck between other bar patrons and the three men, exited the truck and then attacked them. All three victims received minor injuries, classifying the incident as a simple assault, according to a police report.

The two male assailants had spent much of the night inside New Beginnings and left the bar at about 2 a.m.  They shouted homosexual slurs at patrons as they left and then attacked the three victims, according to a police report.

Smith told the Johnson City Press that the attackers had been hitting on several people in the bar during the night, leading him to believe the attack was a premeditated hate crime. He said things could have been much worse if the assailants had been successful in having one of the bar’s patrons leave with them.

Widner told the Press that the he thinks the attack is indicative of rising hostility towards gays in that area.