Police: Man shouted homophobic slurs while choking his neighbor

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A woman was the victim of a frightening attack in an apartment elevator.

She was pushed up against the wall and choked.

Police say James Threadgill violently attacked his neighbor Tuesday night at a complex on Stonewall.

The woman’s girlfriend says he attacked her because she’s a lesbian.

Officers say it started as a disagreement in the hallway, then got physical.

The victim’s girlfriend told WREG she feared she would die.

The couple told police Threadgill called her such hateful and nasty words we can’t even hint at what they are on TV.

“It’s not surprising but it’s shocking every time it happens,”  Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Executive Director Will Batts said.

He understands why the victim and her partner are too frightened to speak out.

“Those area really scary things. You’ve already been attacked once, stepping forward and fighting back is really risky,” he said.

He shares their outrage, but says sadly this happens far too often.

“This happens all too often in our LGBT community that people think LGBT people are targets and not worthy of respect,” he said.

“Using derogatory terms for members of our community is seen as OK,” he added.

In 2013, there were 348 total hate crime cases in Tennessee.

Forty-five were against gays.

This case is not classified as a hate crime yet.

Memphis police say that will be up to the prosecutor, but for the victim and her partner, the words cut deep and the fear lives on.

“It’s important for us as a community to say this is not OK,” she said.

The suspect is still in jail. He’s held on a $5,000 bond, and faces a judge tomorrow.

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