One man and five minors were arrested in Piedmont Park on Friday night after an assault and robbery of a gay couple, according to an Atlanta police report.
At approximately 10 p.m., Jarvis Johnson, 19, and five other males ranging in age from 13 to 17 approached two men having a picnic in Piedmont Park, asked if they were gay and then threatened them, the report states. The suspects then began to attack each individual separately, according to the report.
"We were just finishing up dinner and playing cards when they came up to us and asked if we were gay," Joshua Noblitt, 32, told the AJC on Tuesday. "It wasn't very organized. I don't know if they thought gay men in the park would be an easy target based on stereotypes and stuff, or what."
Noblitt said one of the suspects used a large stick to assault him, which he grabbed away from him and turned on his assailant.
The report states that Noblitt and his boyfriend, Trent Williams, 25, "began to get the best of the suspects," and Johnson used his cellphone to call for help from friends.
Several other teenagers ran into the field to help Johnson and the other suspects in the beating, the report says.
Noblitt fled to Charles Allen Drive, where he called 911 from his cellphone, police said.
Noblitt told police that a suspect in a black tank top, who he believed to be Johnson, took the cellphone from him, put a gun to his face and demanded his wallet.
Noblitt sustained a visible head injury and back pain from being kicked in the head and kidneys, the report states.
"I had a bruise across my forehead which is finally going away today, and I went to the doctor today about a possible broken rib, but I think it's just bruised," Noblitt said.
After responding to the call, police found several of the suspects ducking behind a building, where they were approached by several officers. Further investigation revealed that the suspects were involved in a previous armed robbery minutes earlier in the evening at Linden and Central Park Place, police said.
"I have to say, the LGBT community and the Atlanta police haven't always gotten along, but the police were very respectful in their response time and the treatment of me and my partner," Noblitt said. "And they were able to catch most of [the suspects]."
Noblitt, the Social Justice Minister at St. Mark's Methodist Church, said he has worked with people in criminal justice before. Although he is happy his alleged assailants were caught, he worries about them.
"I saw on the police report that one of them was only 13. They could potentially be tried as adults because it was an armed robbery," he said. "I'm just sad that this whole thing happened. It breaks my heart."
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