Palm Springs Police investigating assault on married couple as hate crime

Police are investigating the attack on a married couple in Palm Springs Sunday night as a hate crime.

George Zander, a Coachella Valley gay rights activist and a member of the Desert Stonewall Democrats, and his husband Chris were holding hands as they left Hunters Nightclub on Sunday evening a little after 8 p.m. when they were confronted, then attacked.

Via The Desert Sun:

Chris said someone bumped into the pair and shouted at them, using a slur. Chris remembers replying, “That’s totally uncalled for.” Then, he remembers the man pulling him down by his shirt before running away.

The Zanders continued onto South Calle Encilia, but the man returned with at least one other person. Chris said he was hit on the head with an object, then blacked out. He found out later that George, who is 71 years old, was pushed to the ground and fractured his hip.

“It was complete anger, it was just anger,” said Chris, who choked up as he recounted the incident Monday. “I don’t understand why somebody would push a 71-year-old man over. It makes me want to cry every time I talk about it.”

Palm Springs police arrived about 8:40 p.m. – at which point the suspects had fled.  They are described as a white male adult with a stocky build and red hair, the other only as a white male adult

In a statement issued Monday, The Palm Springs police department said they believe the men were targeted because they were gay.  The department is investigating the incident as a felony hate crime.

The Desert Stonewall Democrats have launched  a Facebook campaign for donations in order to offer a reward for information leading to the arrest of the attackers.

Congressman Raul Ruiz has also released a statement condemning the violent crimes against the Zanders:

I condemn the violent crimes against George & Chris Zander and I join the prayers of many others for their speedy…

Posted by Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD on Monday, November 2, 2015

Anyone with information is urged to call the Palm Springs police department at (760) 323-8116 or report anonymously through Valley Crime Stoppers at (760) 341-7867.

“We’re going to need everybody’s help to catch these two guys,” Palm Springs police spokesperson Kovaleff told The Desert Sun.