HUDSON — At 1:30 a.m. Thursday, a white man and black woman walking home hand in hand were attacked by four men yelling racial epithets.
This is what the couple told authorities:
Brian Brohel, 29, and his girlfriend, who is 23 and is not being named at her request, were on their way home from Overtime Sports Bar on State Road 52.
As they took a shortcut through River Mill Apartments, four white men approached them. One man had a mullet style haircut — short in the front, long in the back — and had a mustache. He wore jeans and a red hat.
The men yelled out the n-word. Then one of them threw a bottle at the couple. It shattered on the ground.
"What's the problem?" Brohel said, according to statements made later to authorities. His girlfriend told him to stop talking and said they should run.
One of the men came at Brohel, he said, and they began punching each other. He felt something slice him and realized the man had a knife. They fell to the ground, wrestling. Brohel felt two more sharp pains in his back. Then, according to the girlfriend's story, the other three men joined in, kicking Brohel.
She went in to break up the fight and one man grabbed her by the throat and threw her to the ground. The men began kicking her too. The woman curled up in a ball and doesn't remember much after that.
Brohel doesn't either.
After the men left, Brohel's girlfriend helped him stand up. He was stabbed twice in his back and cut on his ear and hand.
They walked home. A neighbor gave them a ride to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point.
A Pasco County sheriff's deputy interviewed Brohel and his girlfriend. The woman didn't want to complete a written statement. She just wanted to go home, she said. She sobbed. Her ribs, neck and stomach hurt.
Brohel also was hesitant to report the incident. It happened so fast, he told the deputy.
On Friday afternoon, the girlfriend, who is a dancer at a Clearwater strip club, told the Times she's angry and scared. She said she and Brohel are doing okay physically.
Records show that Brohel is a registered sexual offender.
He was sentenced in 2001 to nearly six years in prison on child pornography charges for luring teenage girls to a house in St. Petersburg by promising them modeling work, and then coercing them to make pornographic videos. Two other men were also involved in the crime. Brohel had an extensive juvenile record and, after his time in prison, has been arrested twice on charges of driving while intoxicated, disorderly conduct, battery and resisting an officer.
But authorities don't believe his criminal past had anything to do with the attack Thursday morning. From their story, it seems they were attacked because she is black and he is white, said Kevin Doll, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office.
No arrests had been made by Friday.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.