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Gay ISU Student Claims Brutal Attack Was A Hate Crime

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Eric Unger, a student at Illinois State University, had to have his jaw wired shut after he was beaten off campus on April 21, 2012. He said he was targeted because he is openly gay. (Credit: CBS)

Eric Unger, a student at Illinois State University, had to have his jaw wired shut after he was beaten off campus on April 21, 2012. He said he was targeted because he is openly gay. (Credit: CBS)

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DEERFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – A suburban college student was beaten at Illinois State University over the weekend and he said he was targeted because he was gay.

CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports Eric Unger was beaten so badly, his jaw had to be wired shut.

Unger spoke out about the attack while recovering at his home in Deerfield.

“They just wanted to hurt somebody,” Unger said.

The wires holding his fractured jaw together only tell part the story of the attack he survived early Saturday morning.

“The last thing I remember is just being blindsided by six or eight guys, and then I woke up on the concrete,” he said.

He was left bruised and bleeding on the ground in the 100 block of west Willow Street in Normal, Ill., off the ISU campus, where Unger goes to school.

He said it all started when someone knocked his cell phone right out of his hand, as he was walking home alone. That’s when a group of six to eight African-American males jumped him.

“Saying ‘I’m gonna beat your ass.’ Things like ‘I’ll kill you,’ like ‘You’re a f**,’” Unger said.

He believes the group targeted him because he’s openly gay.

“I know this is a hate crime, just because of the words that they said and just how they were saying it,” Unger said. “You know, if there was a group of white guys, you know, attacking a black guy, saying [discriminatory] words to him, that would be a hate crime, wouldn’t it?”

His sister, Jill Unger, said “we came face-to-face with something that was just totally unprovoked hatred.”

Eric and his sister think the group assumed he was gay and it stirred their anger.

They hope someone turns the suspects in.

But, right now, Eric is focused on finishing his last two weeks of school, and moving on.

“You know, I’m not going to let these people scare me,” Eric said.

He’s a family and consumer sciences major. He graduates in two weeks, and by then he’ll still have two to three weeks of recovery left.

His dad believes there’s a racial element to this as well.

Police said they’re not sure yet if it’s a hate crime, and they don’t have any suspects.

They tell the Chicago Phoenix there were no witnesses, but they are investigating with consideration to the fact that anti-gay slurs were used by the assailants.

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