A man is claiming he was beaten and threatened with a gun at the Memphis Zoo last Tuesday because he is gay.
Reginald Buckner, 23, says he was by the zoo’s dining area with friends when two women asked if they could use his phone. When he said no, the women then asked if he and his friends were gay, which he confirmed.
“They just asked all of us were we gay and we were like ‘Yeah’ and they say ‘You know you’re going to hell right?’ and I said ‘Wow,’” Buckner told WMC Action News 5.
According to Buckner, a group of men then joined the women and physical violence soon followed. Buckner says he was punched in the face and back before one of the attackers pulled out a gun.
“They just started out of nowhere physically assaulting,” he said. “When she lifted up the gun everybody just started running.”
Buckner went to the emergency room following the attack, where he was treated for a swollen face, black eye and bruising to his back.
Memphis police say the attackers had already fled the scene by the time they arrived. They are still on the lookout for the alleged assailants.
Buckner has also shared his criticism of the zoo’s role in this, mainly that a gun was allowed in.
“I am literally just disgusted by them period,” he said. “Because of the simple fact that they want to search everyone everywhere else. Why don’t they want to search at the zoo for weapons?”
In a statement, the Memphis Zoo responded with the following:
“This was an isolated incident. The safety of all of our guests is of utmost importance and one of our top priorities. This matter is currently being handled by the Memphis Police Department.”