Gay Atlanta man beaten with baseball bat

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Police are searching for a Fulton County man that allegedly beat a gay man with a baseball bat and said he “hates gay people” after the victim helped him change a flat tire.

Fulton County police charged Denzale Johnson (photo) with aggravated assault after the May 31 attack on Adrian Wilson, 44. About 4:30 p.m., Johnson asked Wilson to help him change a tire on his car, according to an incident report from Fulton County police. The two men were neighbors at County Squire Atlanta Apartments on Cascade Road in southwest Atlanta.

Wilson tells Project Q Atlanta that rather than use the spare tire, he told Johnson that he could repair the damaged one. Johnson asked how much that would cost and Wilson said $10. Johnson said he didn't have that much and Wilson says he then joked that he'd repair the tire for free “because I got a peep show.” Wilson says he was referring to Johnson wearing his pants low on his hips and exposing his underwear. 

“He didn't care much for that,” Wilson says. “During the time when i was fixing the tire he kept asking me what did i mean by the peep show and I kept telling him don't worry about it. I finally told him I was joking about it and told him not to worry about.”

Johnson then asks Wilson if he's gay, Wilson says.

“The victim replied by saying, 'I'm gay and I apologize for coming at you,” according to the incident report.
 
That's when Johnson allegedly says that “he hates gay people,” Wilson says, and Wilson begins to collect his tools and turns his back on Johnson to walk away and return to his vehicle.

“That's when he hit me in the back of the head with the baseball hat,” Wilson says. “After he hit me, I sort of bent over and while I was bent over, he hit me again across the shoulder. I realized he was going to keep hitting me until i did something. I turned around and that's when I saw he had a baseball bat.”

Wilson says he then grabbed a jack handle from his vehicle to defend himself and Johnson fled. Wilson then used a towel from his vehicle to help stop the bleeding and called police. He was transported to Atlanta Medical Center for treatment of a large gash on his head, according to the incident report.

“This wasn't an argument. I guess the guy had some issues so he's kind of sensitive. I've never had anyone react like that. I've been openly gay since i was 21 or 22 and have never had anyone react like that,” says Wilson, who has lived at the apartment complex for 12 years.

“It was not so much what I said but the fact that I was gay,” he adds.

Fulton police obtained an arrest warrant for Johnson on June 11. On Monday, Crime Stoppers Atlanta issued an alert about the case:

Police need your help to capture Denzale Johnson. He is wanted for assaulting another man with a baseball and making disparaging remarks about gay people. The incident happened on May 31, 2015, at the Country Squire Apts on Cascade Road. The victim, Adrian Wilson, suffered a deep laceration to his head that required 13 stitches. Johnson is described as a black male, 6'4″, 184 lbs. If you have information, submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers.

Wilson says Johnson lived with his girlfriend at the apartment complex for several months. But since the assault, he hasn't returned there or to a job at a nearby carwash where Wilson spotted him after the assault. Fulton police say they are asking for the public's help in finding Johnson. 

“We want this guy caught,” says Lt. Scott McBride, a Fulton police spokesperson.

Wilson says he didn't provoke the attack and that prior to the incident, Johnson “seemed like a nice guy.”

“I'm not going around trying to harass folks. When someone asks me if I'm gay, I tell the truth. I'm not ashamed of that and up until this day, I've never been hit in the head with a baseball bat for it,” Wilson says. 

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