Burke Burnett was at a private party when, at about 1am, four men attacked him. They stapped him at least twice with a broken beer bottle and then threw him on to a fire. Burnett has said that his attackers yelled “pussy-ass faggot”, “gay bitch” and “cock-sucking punk”. The party was a private affair.
Burnett needed thirty stitches to close the stab wounds on his back and forearm. He also took a cut above his left eye. He also sustained second degree burns and severe bruises. Burnett told the Dallas Voice that “They knew I was gay. I’m convinced they were trying to kill me.”
Jeff Sugg, the interim chief of the Reno Police Department, said in a statement that “The Reno Police Department is currently investigating an aggravated assault that took place last weekend. The investigation is ongoing and additional information will be provided when available.” However, they declined to discuss the investigation any more. Burnett did say that the officer investigating the case is classifying it as a hate crime. The attackers remain at large even their identities are known.
Burnett stated that “I’m scared for my life. I’m scared to go home. These guys have nothing to lose.” Burnett has been staying with a family friend. Burnett, who grew up in Paris TX, came out when he was fifteen and he knows one of his attackers personally. Two of the other suspects may have been out on parole.
Burnett said he’s attended several parties at the residence and was invited by his straight friend who lives there. He arrived at the party several hours earlier with three gay friends. However, the group left after someone at the party was overheard making anti-gay remarks such as, “These faggots don’t deserve to be here. Somebody needs to get them out of there.” Burnett said he didn’t hear the remarks and wasn’t aware of them when he returned to the party later in the evening with one of his girlfriends.
Burnett said he was sitting inside a large metal shed called “the party shop” when he was blindsided with a punch to his left eye. When he got up and tried to defend himself, one of his attackers stabbed him in the back with a broken beer bottle. Burnett called the stab wound “a kill shot” but said fortunately it didn’t puncture his lung.
Female friends of Burnett managed to slow the attackers down enough so that they could escape. None of the other twenty people at the party tried to stop the attack. His female friends drove him to a hospital in Sulphur Springs, which was about thirty miles away from the attack. Chivas Clem, a gay friend of Burnett’s who was at the party, contacted the media after the attack. He told the Dallas Voice that “I intend to make sure the Police Department follows through with this, and that the local press covers it. When I saw him [Burnett], I vomited because he looked so bad — and I cried.”
Austin Holloman, who is a friend of Burnett’s, also said that the police were considering downgrading the charges to misdemeanors because of where the attack occurred. Holloman stated “We don’t want people thinking this is OK in this area. We plan on being here forever.”