The Asheville Police Department has arrested Lamon Lewis Hopkins, 25, of Weaverville, and charged him in the July 14 assault on Luke Hankins. The APD has qualified the attack as a hate crime, with a group of people shouting homophobic slurs at Hankins before Hopkins punched him in the face hard enough to cause three fractures.
“APD today made an arrest in a serious assault that occurred in the parking lot of Ingles located at 7 New Leicester Hwy. on Thursday the 14th of July,” an announcement from spokesperson Lt. Wally Welch reads. “The victim in the assault alleged that as he entered the Ingles store he was confronted by an individual who was hurling homophobic slurs at him. After shopping he exited the store and was again met by this same individual yelling slurs at him.”
After that, the APD says, Hopkins “walked up to him and struck him once in the face causing multiple fractures. All suspects involved fled the scene shortly thereafter in an older model Chevy Suburban.” The announcement does not name the others involved.
“An anonymous tipster who had seen the story featured in the media contacted detectives and provided key information concerning the address and suspect vehicle location involved in the attack,” the statement continues. After interviews with several of the people involved, Hopkins was arrested and confessed to the crime, the APD claims. He was charged with felony assault inflicting serious injury and released from jail on a written promise to appear.
Meanwhile, Hankins posted on his Facebook page that he “just talked to the detective assigned to my case—they found the guy who hit me and got a full written confession.” He later added “they were all found together, but I think only the 25-year-old who actually hit me was arrested. The others were as young as 15. Not quite sure what will happen with them yet.”
— David Forbes, senior news reporter