Gay man attacked in Santa Barbara
October 12, 2016
In what is being deemed a hate crime, a Santa Barbara man punched an openly gay man in the face on State Street last week. The victim suffered a black eye and a concussion. [KCOY]
On Oct. 4, Richard Schiwietz, and a close friend dined in the downtown area of Santa Barbara. Following dinner, the pair strolled arm-in-arm down State Street.
Around 7 p.m., a man approached them, called them names, flipped them off and made a rude comment about Schiwietz’s mother, Schiweitz said. The suspect then punched Schiwietz in the left temple before attempting to flee the scene.
Schiwietz called 911 and chased after the suspect.
The suspect ran into a parking lot, pulled down his pants and began yelling that he had been raped.
Shortly afterwards, officers arrested John Harlan Savala, 54, on State Street. Schiweitz told police he wanted to press hate crime charges against Savala.
Schiweitz discussed the incident in an interview with KCOY that aired on Tuesday, which was National Coming Out Day. Schiweitz said there currently seems to be a climate of hate.
“It feels like the anger is almost palpable at times, and I feel like I’m getting residuals built up in people,” Schiwitz said.
On Oct. 18, the Pacific Pride Foundation will host a gathering at the location where last week’s attack allegedly happened. Organizers plan for attendees to meet at De La Guerra Plaza at 6 p.m., then walk to the corner of State Street.