JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Days after a gay man was beaten and dragged behind a van, News4Jax is learning more about the victim of what police are calling a “horrendous” attack and others characterized as a hate crime.
The 37-year-old man, whose family did not wish to share his name, is in critical condition at UF Health Jacksonville’s intensive care unit, a relative told News4Jax. The relative said the man has not woken up since Friday’s attack and is currently on a feeding tube.
"He is fighting for his life," the relative said. "He sure is."
The relative said the victim has microscopic brain injuries and severe lacerations to the head stemming from being beaten and then dragged behind a minivan for several blocks through Jacksonville’s Moncrief neighborhood. He was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries early Friday.
“We will know more in a couple of days,” the relative said. “Maybe by Thursday because he’s got a lot of swelling, so once the swelling starts to go down, then they can really determine what’s going to happen to him.”
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the man suspected in the attack was taken into custody Sunday. Eric Bridges, a 34-year-old ex-convict, was booked on an attempted murder charge into the Duval County jail, where he remains in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail.
“I guess they knew each other, or something like that, and something went wrong,” the victim’s relative said. “From what I hear, they even got a video of them fighting – him and this person were fighting each other. I guess video showed him when he went down.”
The relative said he was relieved when he learned an arrest was made in the case, saying that anyone who’s capable of inflicting that kind of violence on another person is someone who either needs to be locked up or taken to a place where he can get help.
He had these words for his loved one’s attacker: “You need some help.”
The relative said he was caught off-guard by what happened to his loved one because the victim isn’t the sort of person who goes out and gets into trouble. He said he plans to show up for every court date for Bridges in the hopes of getting justice in this case.
He said the stress, sleeplessness and tears over the past few days have taken their toll on the family.
“Through it all, we plan to make it through it,” he said. “Whenever he recovers, he wakes up, we are just going to move forward and just put it behind us.”