All Karl Craven could think to do when he saw his boyfriend, Braden Brecht, getting attacked was to jump on top of him to defend him.
“Help! Help!” Craven screamed, until eventually the couple was left on the sidewalk with blood on their clothes.
It started as a normal night out. Craven, 24, and Brecht, 21, had just left Hawthorne in the 1300 block of U Street NW around 1:44 a.m. Sunday and paused to talk a block away from Nellie’s Sports Bar, their next stop.
As Brecht leaned against Craven, Brecht said in an interview Wednesday, he heard two or three men hurl a homophobic slur.
“What did you say?” Craven remembers Brecht yelling.
Eventually, Craven said, about 12 men started attacking Brecht. At that point, Craven said, he didn’t know if Brecht was alive or dead.
It was a blur, Craven said, and he doesn’t remember how long they were there.
The attack left Brecht with multiple welts, bruises, a cut lip and chipped front tooth, and Craven with a bruise on his head. An ambulance took Brecht to a hospital, according to a police report on the events, which noted the incident was a “suspected hate crime” and that part of the assault was video-recorded on a witness’s cellphone.
Craven’s wallet and Brecht’s cellphone were stolen, they said.
The robbery is one of five in a short span Sunday that police were investigating as related.
On Sunday, police arrested Marcus Britt, 19, and two juveniles, 15 and 16 — all of Fort Washington — and charged them with robbery in the event involving Brecht and Craven, a police report shows.
Prosecutors later declined to file charges against Britt, said Kadia Koroma, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the District. Koroma declined to provide the reason prosecutors did not pursue the case.
But speaking in general terms, Koroma said a decision not to file charges — called no-papering a case — despite an arrest can be made for numerous reasons, including limited evidence or not enough evidence to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, and in a reported hate crime, “sufficient evidence” of each aspect of the offense, including identification of the defendant.
A no-papering does not mean charges can’t be brought at a later time, she said.
Britt could not be immediately located for comment.
The office of D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D), which would be the prosecutor for the juvenile cases, would not comment about the status of those charges because the cases are not publicly docketed.
Craven said he was disappointed to hear the case against the adult was not being pursued. “It’s not good to hear,” Craven said.
He and Brecht moved to the District from Virginia Beach about a month ago for Craven’s internship and did not expect to experience anything like what they described in their Sunday attack, Craven said.
“I’ve visited D.C. a lot and it’s always been a safe place to be,” Craven said.
People keep telling them this isn’t what the District is normally like, Brecht said, but after everything that happened, the couple does not know if they will stay in the city.
“Our next step is just figuring out if we want to still live in D.C.,” Craven said.
A GoFundMe campaign that Craven launched to help cover medical bills for Brecht — who is uninsured — by Wednesday had surpassed its $10,000 goal, bringing in a little more than $17,000.
The money will be used for medical expenses, therapy and self-defense classes, Craven said. Whatever’s left will be donated to Casa Ruby, a District-based LGBTQ organization, he said.
The extent of the support is not something either expected, Craven said.
“It’s amazing,” Brecht said. “We saw the worst human beings this weekend, and now we’re seeing the best.”