A beatdown at Boogie’s?
Witnesses say two men assaulted a longtime Boogie’s Diner employee last month in a racially motivated attack.Francisco Romero said he left Cooper Street Pier around 1 a.m. June 22 and crossed paths with two young men in a private parking lot at the rear of Boogie’s Diner.The men exchanged words, then the pair jumped Romero, punching and kicking him for 10 minutes while he lay helpless on the ground, he said.”They turned around, and one of them just started punching me,” Romero said. The other assailant tackled Romero, and when he fell he got dirt in his eyes and couldn’t see, Romero said.According to Romero – a legal U.S. resident originally from Mexico – one of the assailants shouted, “You [expletive deleted] Mexican. We’re going to kill you right now!””I just saw black,” Romero said. And when he tried to cover his face, Romero said, “One tried to open my arms, and the other beat me.”When police arrived shortly after 1:35 a.m. and conducted an investigation, they transported two men – Andrew Gus Ukraine, 23, of Aspen, and Warne William Chitty, 23, of Snowmass – to the Pitkin County Jail.Romero, 38, received seven stitches in his head at Aspen Valley Hospital and was released.According to police, Chitty and Romero were issued summonses and released. The two will make their first appearance Tuesday in Pitkin County Court, and will face third-degree assault charges.Boogie’s Diner owner Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass, said the charges are too light for the savage, racially motivated attack on Romero, who has worked the kitchens at his restaurant for 18 years.”The kids were looking for trouble. They jumped him,” Weinglass said. “If the police weren’t called, there would have been a murder in my back parking lot.”Romero has no police record and has never been in a fight, Weinglass said.”I’m upset that in this country someone can be beaten and kicked and stepped on, and they only get a minor charge,” Weinglass said.Romero was equally stunned.”I’m really surprised. I lived in this town for more than 10 years. I never expected this is going to happen,” he said.Bree Lalonde, a bartender at Zane’s Tavern, said she was carrying out the trash when she heard shouts from the parking area and saw two shirtless men attacking another man on the ground in the fetal position. But Lalonde said she could not hear exactly what the two assailants were yelling or if they made racial remarks.She dialed 911 and flagged down an patrol car approaching the scene, she said.Romero said that since the incident he’s been unable to work. But the hardest part was telling his son why his face was bruised and swollen, he said.”The hate they have – it really bothers me and makes me really upset,” Romero said.But the severity of assault charges is based on injuries and determined by a doctor, according to Deputy District Attorney Gail Nichols. Third-degree assault covers a “huge range of conduct,” basically any assault that causes pain but not grave bodily harm such as disfigurement or broken bone.”He did not suffer serious bodily injury,” Nichols said, adding that the incident is still under investigation.Nichols said if there were enough evidence to prove the attack was racially motivated, the charges could be altered to a hate crime, a felony.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is email@example.com