Crime | News | Phoenix

Phoenix Activist and Performer Austin Head Assaulted: Report

Towleroad received this report from a reader over the weekend:

HeadAustin Head, a Phoenix-based entertainer, activist and star of LogoTV’s Positive Youth documentary, was assaulted early Friday morning by two assailants who targeted him and a friend as they were headed home and walking down Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix.

Following an evening out at the popular LGBT nightspot Charlie’s, Head and his friend were attacked by two men, Jermon and Ernie Barnes, ages 24 and 21 respectively. As the men approached Head and his friend, they yelled homophobic slurs, and then began to physically assault the two.

Knocked unconscious, Austin Head woke up later Friday morning with multiple head injuries, including a Maxillary Sinus Fracture, Lateral Orbit Fracture, eyebrow laceration and severe swelling on the left side of his face. 

The two suspects were immediately tracked down by the Phoenix Police Department, identified by a witness, arrested and jailed.   It is not known if the two assailants were still in police custody.

Dr. Stuart Sperry of St. Joseph’s Hospital, who took charge of Head’s recovery, warned that further plastic surgery may be needed to restore the fractures caused by this assault.

Watch an interview with Head, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Awful. Goes to show just because the marriage bills passed and DOMA could be repealed soon, it doesn't mean homophobia isn't still very much alive and well.

    I wonder if the two thugs (guess they're brothers given the last names are the same) knew of Austin and his friend since he was seemingly immediately targeted once he left the bar. I wouldn't be surprised if these two guys are on the DL and hate Austin because he's so proud and open with his sexuality.

    Posted by: Francis | Nov 12, 2012 9:30:25 AM

  2. Also, obviously, best wishes of a speedy recovery go out to Austin and his other friend, both physically and mentally.

    Posted by: Francis | Nov 12, 2012 9:35:45 AM

  3. I'm amazed by two things.
    A) Being a 13 year resident of Phoenix and not knowing who Austin Head is.
    B) That PHX PD took this seriously enough to track down and arrest the assailants.

    I hope Mr. Head and his friend speedy recoveries.

    Posted by: jakeinlove | Nov 12, 2012 12:05:25 PM

  4. @Jakeinlove. Being a lifelong resident of Phoenix, I've never heard of him either...

    Posted by: Luke | Nov 12, 2012 12:25:39 PM

  5. I do not understand the inclusion of "Following an evening out at the popular LGBT nightspot Charlie’s" in this report without further details of how that information is related. At the closest point, Charlie's is half of a mile from Central Avenue, and it is much further from Central Avenue in what is categorized as "Downtown Phoenix."

    Charlie's, Central Avenue and Downtown Phoenix are connected by Light Rail. Were the victims and perpetrators of this crime passengers on the same train? Were the victims followed after exiting a train?

    Linking Charlie's to this event, without additional information about what part, if any, a previous destination of the victims on the same evening may have played in the attack seems irresponsible.

    Posted by: John | Nov 12, 2012 3:42:50 PM

  6. @John--agreed. Charlies isnt on Central and isnt in "downtown phoenix"....

    Posted by: Chicklets | Nov 12, 2012 8:12:45 PM

  7. As a gratefully former resident of Phoenix, there is little I can say positive about the city. However, the Phoenix PD, not the MCSO, has been very responsive to the needs of the LGBT community, including community outreach and an active recruiting program. I have seen Austin Head on Logo, and I know he has hosted/DJ'd at quite a few Phoenix LGBT events. I wish him a quick recovery.

    Posted by: Kenneth | Nov 12, 2012 9:50:35 PM

  8. This really sucks to hear... I was driving to work the other day and a white car with a breast cancer plate and license plate "MSWMSW" was driving next to me on 3rd Avenue south of Thomas... two guys were in the car and started rapping about "the two dudes, the fa&&ots" in the car next to them. I am so glad that the people who did this to Austin got caught, and Austin, we're hoping that you're doing well, recover quickly and come see me at The Clarendon soon! Hopefully they'll be charged with attempted murder... how senseless this was!

    Posted by: Ben Bethel | Nov 12, 2012 10:29:39 PM

  9. It's Arizona so don't expect justice to be done. The guys will get away with it and the cops will do their best to NOT call it a hate crime so the Feds don't get involved. They know that if the Feds get involved the case is investigated properly. They don't want that.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Nov 13, 2012 12:19:30 AM

  10. I really hope Phoenix Police will treat this with as much attention as was given to the shooting of the Senator down in Tucson. Hate is hate, violence is violence, regardless if the victim is gay or not. There are so many horrible views of this state, I hope this story, will start to be one that will be positive for the state, that the government took violence against someone seriously, just as seriously as anyone else. Sending love to his family and friends. How horrible.

    Posted by: Lauren | Nov 13, 2012 2:28:05 AM

  11. This just kills me. This happened less than 2 miles from my apartment. Central Phoenix has such a vibrant gay community, sometimes it's easy to forget that not everyone that lives here is on our side.

    Posted by: marilove | Nov 13, 2012 12:21:44 PM

  12. I got a letter today from a prisoner who needs help getting protective segregation - he was just assaulted for being gay, like Austin. His nose was broken. He's been turned down 11 times already for protective segregation, and is afraid they'll turn him down again. I have a friend in there who was stabbed 13 times for the same reason - a guard was bribed $1000 to open his cell door and let the bad guys in. Anyone who cares about violence against queer people is invited to contact me to help me organize support for them (queer prisoners, not activists/ entertainers. they already have support). I can put you to work. You can also feel good sending me money, too, if you just don't have time because you're already saving the world. Your potential influence as a community member willing to stand up for these folks would mean more, though. Peggy Plews

    Posted by: arizona prison watch | Nov 13, 2012 6:56:26 PM

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