Police say attack on interracial couple in LIC not a hate crime

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan
THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

An attack on an interracial couple that happened right after they left Shi restaurant in Long island City is not a hate crime, according to a police source.

Cops say the attack on an interracial couple in Long Island City this past weekend was not a hate crime.

According to a police source, the Hate Crimes Task Force Unit deemed the case unbiased yet the assault is still under investigation by the NYPD.

Since the incident, police have arrested Nikolaos Katsos, 28, and charged him with assault and harassment. Yet, police are still looking for other suspects.

On Saturday, August 17 at 1:45 a.m. Jacob James-Vogel, 37, and his wife Billie, 40, were assaulted in front of 47-20 Center Boulevard, said police.

It was initially reported that the couple said they were leaving SHI restaurant in Long Island City with a gay friend after celebrating Billie’s birthday when they were approached by a group of men who began yelling homophobic and racial slurs. Both Jacob and his wife received injuries from an altercation during the attack.

According to a statement from SHI restaurant, surveillance footage showed the incident took place down the street from the eatery. The establishment also said the footage also shows the couple and their friend were not attacked randomly after Jacob “was asked to leave the restaurant as a result of his disorderly conduct and unruly behavior.”

Shih Lee, owner of SHI restaurant, said in the statement he stepped outside after being informed by his doorman and the couple’s friend, Chris Boscia, of what was happening down the block and by the time he made it down the block the fight was over. During this time, Lee said bystanders told him 9-1-1 had been called and police were on their way.

“At no point during this incident did we refuse to help,” said Lee, in response to reports accusing him and his doorman of denying the couple and their friend reentry into the restaurant after the attack. “I did not learn the full details of the attack until Sunday morning a day after the incident.”