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Five men from out of state are in King County Jail for investigation of malicious harassment, the state’s hate-crime statute, after probable cause was found earlier this week that they beat a man on Capitol Hill in an unprovoked attack apparently prompted by the alleged victim’s race and sexual orientation.

The suspects — all white males — are suspected of beating a 20-year-old black man with their fists, feet and a skateboard on Tuesday night, according to Seattle police.

A doorman working at the Comet Tavern in the 900 block of East Pike Street flagged down a Seattle police patrol car around 9:45 p.m. and told an officer he had witnessed a group of men beating the victim while yelling racial and homophobic slurs, according to the probable-cause statement outlining the police case against the five suspects.

The doorman, who pointed out the suspects as they sat on a sidewalk near the bar, said the group also had yelled similar epithets at other passers-by, the statement says.

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The doorman, 31, told police the 20-year-old victim was walking east on Pike Street when he got into a verbal exchange with the five men, according to the statement. The alleged victim continued walking when “the group jumped up and began to beat” the man with “closed fists, kicks and a skateboard,” it says. The doorman told the officer the alleged victim “did a good job fighting back and breaking away from the group,” running west on Pike Street, the statement says.

As two officers contacted the suspects, the alleged victim walked up, bleeding from the mouth, according to the statement. The officers ordered the suspects on the ground and all five initially complied before one of them, Justin Echols, 22, of West Palm Beach, Fla., allegedly jumped up and ran west on Pike Street, the statement says. He was again taken into custody after a brief foot chase, it says.

The arresting officers found a 6-inch fixed-blade knife in one suspect’s waistband; a second suspect had a 4-inch fixed-blade knife and a glass meth pipe, police spokeswoman Renee Witt wrote in an item posted on the department’s online blotter.

“The victim stated that he did not know the suspects or why they attacked him,” Witt wrote of the 20-year-old, who was taken to Harborview Medical Center to be treated for his injuries.

Arrested were:

• Trey Amberson, 22, of Trustville, Ala.; and Echols; both being held in lieu of $10,000 bail.

• Aaron Nelson, 21, of Gaston, Ore. His bail was set at $15,000 at his first court appearance Thursday, but Nelson is being held without bail for failing to appear in a Walla Walla court on a fourth-degree assault charge, jail records show.

• William Berger, 21, of Davie, Fla.; and Zachary Kocikhill, 21, of La Mesa, Calif.; are each being held in lieu of $5,000 bail.

The deadline for filing formal charges is Monday, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or

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