2 CBS Newsmen Beaten In Caribbean

jefferson CBS

Police have appealed to the public for help in the investigation into an attack on two CBS News journalists who were beaten with tire irons outside a bar on the Dutch side of this Caribbean island in what the victims described as a hate crime.

Investigators in St. Maarten published a newspaper advertisement Monday seeking witnesses or other information about the attack, which left the two Americans with serious head injuries.

"We do not take the ill treatment of any person, whether resident or visitor, lightly and we are pursuing this matter to find the suspects," said police spokesman Johan Leonard.

Dick Jefferson, 51, and Ryan Smith, 25, both journalists for CBS, were outside a bar with several friends early Thursday morning when three men attacked them and started hitting them with tire irons.

"A white car came screaming out of nowhere and attempted to run us down," Jefferson told CBSNews.com. "One came towards me with a tire wrench. I thought, 'What the hell?' and then I got whacked on the head. The next thing I know I'm waiting for the ambulance."

Jefferson, who lives in New York and is a senior broadcast producer for the CBS Evening News, said the attackers yelled anti-gay slurs at his friends earlier in the evening.

Both victims were flown to Miami for medical treatment.

Smith, also from New York, was being moved from intensive care today, said Jefferson, who was treated and released Sunday after a 5-centimeter titanium plate was inserted into his head.

"He has a long road of rehabilitation ahead of him," said Jefferson, who added that Smith was having trouble speaking.

Jefferson faulted St. Maarten authorities for not collecting witness testimony on the night of the crime or pursuing other leads. "The police were and are still trying to ignore this situation," he said from the Miami hospital where Smith was being treated.

"They are not going to listen to you and are not going to help you," Jefferson told CBSNews.com. "You're basically on your own."

St. Maarten, a popular Caribbean tourist destination, is an island shared by France and the Netherlands, and is known as gay friendly.

"It's like they don't want tourists to find out it's not the friendly island," Jefferson told CBS News.
  • Gina Pace

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