DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Channel 9 spoke to a Daytona Beach man who said he was brutally attacked at a gas station because he was dressed like a woman.
The victim, William Jackson, said he wants the men responsible arrested, but also wants the beating to get attention because he doesn't want others like him to become victims.
The incident started when Jackson said he broke up a fight between his girlfriends and another group of girls. About 30 minutes later, he said the men jumped him at the Citgo on International Speedway Boulevard.
The beating was caught on video and posted to Facebook. It shows numerous men punching and kicking Jackson near the gas pump in front of the convenience store.
"I can't believe that somebody in this day in age really put their hands on me and beat me," Jackson said.
In the video from early Sunday morning, Jackson can be seen wearing a black and white dress. He said the reason the men attacked him was because likes to dress like a woman.
"I'm thinking, 'Is it over? Is it over?' Like, 'Just let it be over,'" said Jackson. "That's the only thing. I just knew this is not going to end good."
A police report states one of the assailants used an offensive term for homosexuals before the beating started.
"It's been tough, like it has not been easy just to walk around or even to look at people in the face the same," said Jackson. "It takes a lot of trust out of you, too."
Jackson could only identify one of the men who attacked him but the video was posted to Facebook and it appears other assailants commented on it.
"We identify the second suspect by how he posts his name and we get his conversations and you can tell who he is in that video," said Chief Michael Chitwood.
Jackson suffered scrapes, bruises and a black eye.
"I think more emotionally, more disconnected and more hurt, but physically I'm fine," he said.
Jackson said he wants to press charges against his attackers.
"My message to, you know, people who are like me and have been in this position, is I understand it," said Jackson. "I get it and you know you have to be strong being when you are a different kind of person."
Investigators said the two suspects they have identified will face simple battery charges.
Chitwood said the State Attorney's Office has decided there's not enough evidence to say the beating was a hate crime. However, Chitwood said he still believes it should rise to that level.
"The victim is dressed like a woman, you know, and if that's the reason why the victim was beaten, I believe there should be, charges should be warranted much higher than that," he said.