NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A man who was was bashed over the head with a chair at a Chelsea restaurant Tuesday spoke exclusively to CBS2's Dave Carlin about the incident.
The attack happened during a shocking brawl that was caught on video, and police believe the victim may have been targeted because he is gay. Police have since launched a hate crime investigation.
The incident took place shortly after 11 p.m. at the Dallas BBQ at 261 Eighth Ave., during what was reported to be a Cinco de Mayo celebration.
A video posted to YouTube and Instagram by witness Isaam Sharef showed a man being flung to the floor and kicked as others screamed, "Stop!"
Warning: Some May Find Video Disturbing
After Jonathan Snipes' partner pulls him away, a bearded, suit-wearing, six-foot-four man grabbed a wooden chair, heaved it up high and then down on to the head of Snipes. Snipes slumps in the chair, while his partner collapses to the floor.
Following the attack, a photo published by DNAInfo showed Snipes with cuts on his head and near his ear.
Later, he had a ball-cap over the wounds when he spoke to CBS2 about his shock and pain.
"At this moment, we're just going to get home. We're going to rest. We haven't been able to sleep yet because of the head injury that was sustained," Snipes said.
Snipes spent hours talking to Detectives with NYPD Hate Crimes Unit, telling them a dinner date was underway when the drink spilled, and the suspect sitting at another table allegedly made an anti-gay slur.
He said the two fought. Snipes said his boyfriend intervened, and the suspect is seen violently pushing
Snipes to the ground.
Afterward, it appears the much larger man is stomping on Snipes.
"He was on the floor being stomped -- like he was stomping to kill," Sharef said. "Like, it was violently dangerous. It was out of control to even see it."
Shocking Video Shows Man Being Bashed Over The Head With Chair At Chelsea Dallas BBQ
Sharef told WCBS 880 that Snipes was the one who initially made the argument physical. But as the fight escalated, other patrons were heard yelling for the fight to stop -- with some even trying to break it up.
"In all my years, I had never seen anything like that. I had never seen somebody crack -- I mean like, you could hear the wood break; like, that heavy, thick wood upside that man's head," Sharef told Carlin.
Shocking Video Shows Men Being Bashed Over The Head With Chair At Chelsea Dallas BBQ
"It's shocking to see something like that," Eric Roco said.
"Theres no excuse for the violence no justification," Lisa Roco added.
City Councilman Corey Johnson (D-3rd) called the incident "anti-LGBT hate violence."
"The fact that this attack took place in the neighborhood of Chelsea, a place known around the world for its acceptance of all people, is particularly outrageous," Johnson said. "There must be zero tolerance of hate crimes, the most insidious of crimes as they target entire communities of people."
People on the street in Chelsea were likewise shocked Wednesday.
"There's no need for all that right there. There's no need for that. No justification," said Lisa Roco.
"It is shocking to see something like that – to pick up a chair and smash someone's head like that," said Eric Roco. "The wild, wild west."
When asked if he thought the attack was a hate crime, Snipes said, "I mean, any violent act against any New Yorker I would not condone, but especially anything that's protected – whether it's your race, your religion or your creed."
The attacker, who police say is around 35 years old, fled the scene and remained at large.
Investigators are hoping someone who saw the video will turn him in.
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