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Gay men allegedly attacked by straight couple for wearing Speedos on beach

Gay men allegedly attacked by straight couple for wearing Speedos on beach

Christopher Yarema and Stephanie Burnham

A man and woman have been arrested in Key West, Florida, after allegedly carrying out a vicious attack on a gay couple.

Keith Miller, 61, and Jeff Pellissier, 59, live in California. Last Saturday, they spent the day snorkelling and hiking on Wisteria Island.

The small, island lies 590 meters northwest of Key West. Officially, the island is uninhabited, but squatters and homeless people are known to use it.

Towards the end of the day, as the men were preparing to head back in their rental boat to Key West, they heard another boat approach. Miller and Pellissier had rented a large boat with an accompanying dinghy to take them to shore.

‘I heard loud people in a skiff coming toward the island, and I mentioned to Keith, “I hope they’re not going to be landing near us, they sound noisy, they sound a bit drunk”,’ Pellissier told NBC News.

On the approaching skiff were Christopher Thomas John Yarema, 43, and Stephanie Lynn Burnham, 35.

They jumped out of their boat, into the knee-high water, and confronted the men.

‘The man yelled, “Hey, Speedo man, what are you doing here, get the fuck off my island, you fag”,’ says Pellissier.

Miller told NBC, ‘‘The only thing we said is “We are leaving, and we want nothing but peace”.’

However, the confrontation then escalated.

Knife pulled and dinghy punctured

According to the arrest report, Burham then yelled, ‘You have five seconds to get off, or I will kill you.’

Burnham punched Pellissier in the face, breaking his sunglasses. She then struck him in the head with a boat oar.

Pellissier managed to push her away. He says that at this point, Yarema says, ‘You knocked down my wife, I’m going to kill you.’

Yarema, pulled out a knife and swung at Pellissier. Pellissier managed to shield himself using the dinghy. Yarema knife missed Pellissier but he punctured the dinghy twice.

The two men were able to scramble into the dinghy and just about make it back to their boat before the dinghy deflated. Once back on the boat, they called the coast guard for assistance.

Yarema and Burnham were arrested at the Coast Guard office. Yarema faces charges of aggravated assault and property damage. Burnham faces charges of battery and property damage.

A spokesperson for Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says attorneys are still to decide whether hate crime charges will also be filed.

See also

Man who yelled homophobic abuse at gay couple spared jail, then offers hug to victims instead

Florida’s LGBTI tropical paradise Key West hosts steamy all-male festival

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