PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – Plano police are looking for two men they say committed a hate crime in their city.

According to authorities, the suspects pistol-whipped an 18-year-old young man after he defended his two female friends from anti-gay remarks.

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The girls were holding hands as they and their male friend walked outside of the Plano Sports Authority, in the 600 block of Seabrook Drive, over the Memorial Day weekend.

Police say although the girls were not attacked, they consider the offense a hate crime.

“We’re investigating it as a hate crime based on the fact that these two suspects started making these sexually oriented, derogatory comments to these young ladies,” Officer David Tilley, with the Plano Police Department explained.

The victim’s injuries were severe enough that he was treated at a local hospital and released.

The men face felony charges of Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Designating the attack a hate crime won’t impact the criminal charges, but Tilley said the department would file them anyway.

“The whole point of the hate crime is basically for an enhancement, because it takes one particular charge and enhances is up to a higher level. There’s really nowhere to go with this because it [Assault with a Deadly Weapon charge] already is a first-degree felony,” he said. “We believe these individuals committed a bias-motivated crime, which is a hate crime and because of that we want to investigate it that way, regardless of whether there’s gonna wind up being any enhancement.”

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Officer Tilley said there’s another reason for the hate crime designation, “We want to make sure that everybody understands we are not gonna accept bias-motivated crimes in our city.”

Though there were two attackers the victim and witnesses were only able to give a specific description of one of them. Both men are African American and believed to be between 17 and 25 years old, one of them had dreadlocks with orange highlights and a tattoo on his left forearm.

To date, hate crimes haven’t been a serious problem in Plano. Officer Tilley said, “This is the first sexually oriented bias-motivated crime that we’ve actually had to deal with.”

In 2001, the Texas Legislature adopted its current hate crime statute, with expanded sentences for crimes motivated by racial hatred or other kinds of bias, including sexual orientation.

Anyone with information about the attack or the wanted suspects is asked to contact Plano police at (972) 424-5678 or call the Plano Police Department Anonymous Tip Line at (972) 941-2148.

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