Man faces hate crime charges

A Redwood City man has pleaded not guilty to multiple hate crime charges after authorities say he attacked his gay neighbors without provocation as the victims worked on their car recently.

Herbert Santos-Coy, 30, remained behind bars Wednesday on one count of felony assault for hate crime purposes, two counts of felony commission of a hate crime and one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest. If convicted, he faces up to eight years in state prison.

“There’s nothing the victims did that would have provoked this. It’s an outrage,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Santos-Coy and his wife lived next door to the couple on Buckeye Street. On Sunday, the victims were working on their car when Santos-Coy approached them and began hurling anti-gay epithets, Wagstaffe said.

Santos-Coy then allegedly struck one man in the face repeatedly before picking up a wrought iron table and swinging it at the couple. Santos-Coy had been drinking but prosecutors do not believe he was drunk at the time of the incident, Wagstaffe said.

“He went wild in the carport. He was knocking things over before the police got there,” Wagstaffe said.

When Redwood City police responded, Santos-Coy allegedly scuffled with officers before being subdued.

The victims, both in their mid-20s, said they knew Santos-Coy and there was no history of problems between the neighbors.

According to the most recent FBI statistics, hate crimes based on sexual orientation rose 18 percent from 2005 to 2006 nationwide.

Of San Mateo County’s 23 hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2006, three were based on sexual orientation. Local prosecutors have also noticed an increase in anti-gay crimes over the past several years, Wagstaffe said.

tbarak@examiner.com

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