SALT LAKE CITY – A fight outside a Salt Lake City hotel early Sunday morning could possibly be investigated as a hate crime, authorities said Monday.
Cell phone video captured a black man throw a punch at a Caucasian man who knocked him out. The fight was over an argument about a Confederate Flag decal on a truck parked at the Red Lion Hotel.
The truck belonged to Kelly Leeper’s friend. Leeper was in town for the Garth Brooks concert. On Sunday, he said looked out the window of his room at the Red Lion and saw a group of black men near his friend’s truck.
In the back of the truck, Leeper said there was $50,000 worth of welding equipment. There was also a Confederate Flag decal on the side.
“The point is it’s my right to drive what any kind of vehicle I want. If I want to fly the Confederate Flag, it’s my right,” Leeper said.
Leeper went to the parking lot with his friend and confronted the group. That’s when the fight turned violent.
In one fast and powerful punch, Leeper’s friend was knocked out. A scuffle ensued and Leeper was taken down by a group of six men.
“I’ll be damned if I ever come to Salt Lake again without bringing my gun,” Leeper said.
The fight was captured on cell phone video. The video has been turned over to Salt Lake City Police.
Someone at the scene also wrote down a partial plate number of the vehicle the suspects drove away in.
“Somebody thought to get a plate number as well and that’s really going to help in this case. I think we’ll probably be able to track down that vehicle,” said Sgt. Robin Heiden, spokeswoman for Salt Lake City Police Department.
It is only a partial plate number and it comes from a temporary Utah license tag. The car is described as a silver two-door car with the partial plate 9-7-S-20.
Leeper said the fight turned racial, with slurs going both ways by the time it was over.
“It could potentially be a hate crime. We’ll then present all that to the district attorney who will make that final determination,” Heiden said.
Both Leeper and his friend suffered cuts and bruises but neither were seriously hurt.
Salt Lake City police is asking for help in identifying the men in the video and with locating the car involved. Anyone with information related to the crime, is asked to call Salt Lake City police at 801-799-3000.