Detectives completed another round of victim and witness interviews on Wednesday and maintained that they don't believe the beating of a Hispanic man near Patterson Park was spurred on by the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial in Florida — though at least one witness said she has never been interviewed.
Police have been looking for racial motivations in the beating of 37-year-old Melvin Garcia in the 2700 block of E. Fairmount Ave. on Sunday night after a woman said she heard a group of black youths yell, "This is for Trayvon" during the incident.
Police spokesman Sgt. Eric Kowalczyk said Thursday that investigators could not corroborate her account and "have no indication the incident had anything to do with the verdict in Florida."
Another witness, who called 911, said she has never been interviewed by police.
"I was surprised too because I very clearly left my name and number on the record," said the woman who asked that she not be named because the suspects remain at large.
Kowalczyk said detectives continue to talk to people about the case, which remains open.
While the woman watched Garcia get beaten, she said, she asked teens at the scene why the assault was occurring. Most told her to mind her own business but one said "because he was Mexican" — a statement she relayed to a dispatcher during a recorded 911 call.
Police declined to say what witnesses or victims might have told detectives during interviews.
Garcia has told The Sun he doesn't remember what any of the five unknown suspects said as they chased and threw him on the asphalt just before 9 p.m. on Sunday. Garcia said he was accosted while he was walking near his home, and he said his wallet or cell phone wasn't taken in the attack, which ended when witnesses told the group they were calling 911.
Christina Dudley, another witness, posted on a neighborhood Facebook page and told The Sun that she heard Trayvon Martin's name mentioned multiple times as the group's motivation for the beating. On Thursday she said she has retold that same account to detectives multiple times over the past few days.
"I told them exactly what I saw and heard," Dudley said. "I've told them everything I know."
Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, was acquitted Saturday in the murder of Martin, a black teenager, a decision that has polarized the nation and led to demonstrations across the country and in Baltimore.
Kowalczyk said police are still investigating a motive in Garcia's assault and have no suspects.
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