Tenn. Health Store Owner Attacked in Alleged Hate Crime
Three men viciously beat the owner of a health food store in Tennessee on Nov. 20, in what some are calling an anti-gay hate crime, Tennessee’s ABC-affiliate station WBBJ reports,
According to WBBJ, the owner of Healthy Thyme in Paris, Tenn., (about 145 northwest of Memphis), was beaten unconscious and robbed of $1,200. A "three letter homophobic slur" was also written on the victim’s forehead with a marker.
Fox 17 has identified the victim as Joe Williams, 32, and reports that Healthy Thyme is family-owned and has been in business for 15 years.
"You know I don’t know whether you need to carry a gun with you at all times or have a security system. There’s just no way of knowing," Ronnie Russell, a customer of Healthy Thyme, told WBBJ.
The Paris Post-Intelligencer cites a Paris police department report that says $1,500 was stolen and that the store was set on fire, causing and additional $5,500 in damage. According to the newspaper, the crime took place around 5:30 p.m. last Wednesday as Healthy Thyme’s workers were closing up for the night. The victim told police that a man came through the employee entrance asking for help for his sick daughter. When the employee went to get a product for the man, the attacker asked about his sexual preference before beating him.