Houston executive charged in anti-gay assault

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A Houston oil company executive was arrested for allegedly assaulting a gay man and yelling an anti-gay slur at him during a confrontation in downtown Austin. 

Anthony J. Fera (photo), the 51-year-old president of MidStar Energy on Tuckerton Road in northwest Houston, was arrested on June 2 after the alleged confrontation in April with a Dallas gay couple in Austin.

Paul von Wupperfeld and husband Andy Smith, executive director of the Texas Instruments Foundation, were walking along Colorado Street in Austin on April 18 when Fera's pickup truck allegedly nearly struck the men as it exited a parking lot. From there, a confrontation ensued and Fera allegedly turned violent, according to the Dallas Voice:

Andy Smith and Paul von Wupperfeld were walking south along Austin’s Colorado Street on April 18, at about 10:25 p.m., when a truck “came barreling out of the parking lot on our left, almost hitting us,” Smith wrote in his statement to Austin police. “I hollered out, ‘you nearly hit us.’ To which the driver replied, ‘Fuck you faggot.’”

Smith responded, “What did you say?”

“Fuck you faggot,” the man answered. He stopped his truck in a lane of traffic, got out and the exchange escalated.

Smith told him he couldn’t call them that.

“You make me stop,” he said. “I’ll kick your ass.”

Smith wrote that he thinks he said, “What are you going to do? Hit me?”

Smith, 47, suffered a broken nose, black eye, lacerations, scrapes and a shoulder injury, according to the Dallas News. The alleged assault left Smith unconscious, Von Wupperfeld told the Dallas Voice.

By the time von Wupperfeld reached Smith, he told police, Smith’s “face was swollen and bloody from where he had been punched, with cuts on his nose, right cheek and chin. He was unconscious for around 30-45 seconds. When he came around he was groggy and disoriented.”

Witnesses captured the assault on video and recorded the license plate of Fera's truck before he fled. Fera has been arrested in the past in Texas and Pennsylvania, according to the Dallas Voice. 

Fera was later identified in a photo lineup and arrested on June 2. He was released on $5,000 bail, according to the Dallas News. He did not respond to requests for comment from the Austin Business Journal and hung up on a reporter from the Dallas News. 

Smith told the Dallas News that he's still recovering from the assault. 

“I’m very grateful to the Austin Police Department and the many witnesses who stepped forward and offered help,” said Smith, who was unconscious for nearly a minute. “I’ve received a lot of support and love from my family and friends.”

[Dallas Voice | Dallas News | Statesman | Austin Business Journal]

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