AUSTIN – Austin police are hoping surveillance video from a Roppolo’s Pizza truck showing a brutal and random attack will help detectives find the man responsible.
“This is a wonderful city. It's not just a crime against me, it's a crime against Austin, and it has to be resolved, and they have to get this person before he hurts someone else, if not here, in another city,” said Andrew Oppleman, a victim who had a number of his teeth knocked out by a man who attacked him. Oppleman believes he was attacked because he’s gay.
The attack happened during Austin's gay pride weekend.
“It's honestly devastating, no shortness of that word. Just absolutely devastating,” added Oppleman.
Oppleman and his friend Nick Soret were waiting at the Roppolo Pizza Truck at 4th Street and Colorado when an Asian man in a baseball cap began random ally talking to Soret.
“He was like, 'Hey what are you looking at? You think I'm cute? I see you looking at me’ and he was in my face. I said, ‘I'm not, I'm just waiting, and it's my turn,'” said Soret to KVUE Friday afternoon.
In the video, captured on a surveillance camera mounted on the Roppolo’s Pizza trailer, Soret is seen walking up to the counter and picking up a slice of pizza. A man to his side, wearing a baseball cap and glasses, then turns to Soret. Within moments the man pushes the pizza out of Soret’s hand. Seconds later Oppleman is seen stepping forward from the curb. The attacker then turns to Oppleman, punching him in the face. Oppleman starts to bleed. He lost several teeth in the punch, but the attack wasn’t over. In the video, police watch as the attacker turns around again and punches Soret before walking off.
Detectives say the owner of the trailer handed the video over as evidence.
Another man who was with the suspect, Jin Young Park, was arrested and charged with public intoxication, however police can’t find him now because he moved out of his apartment and hasn't returned calls from detectives.
Other witnesses nearby haven’t come forward.
Police describe the attacker as an Asian male in his late 20s or early 30s. Police say he's about 6 feet tall with a muscular build. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 472-TIPS.
Soret and Oppleman will be keynote speakers Saturday afternoon at an event called March Against Hate organized by a group called Get Equal Texas.
Several hundred people are expected to meet at Austin City Hall at 11:45 Saturday morning. They’ll march up Congress Avenue to the south steps of the State Capitol.
“It really only takes one bad apple really to set out and do something like this to destroy the peaceful and loving mood that we have in Austin,” said Michael Diviesti with Get Equal Texas.
Austin police are working with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office trying to determine if the attacks are considered hate crimes.