A University of Alberta student says he was targeted in an attack near his campus dorm last week because he is gay.
Chevi Rabbit, 26, says he was walking to the Safeway at Whyte Avenue and 109th Street around 9 p.m. Thursday when a group of three men began yelling homophobic slurs at him.
One of the men jumped out, approached Rabbit and put him in a headlock, then threw him to the ground before stealing his iPhone, he said.
Students living in a fraternity house across the street rushed over to help before police arrived.
"There was other guys in the car," said Matt Peyneburg. "It could have been four guys on one person. He could have been seriously injured there."
Rabbit said he was surprised the attack happened so openly.
"It caught me off guard," said Rabbit. "It's a really good neighbourhood for the most part.
"There were people playing volleyball, people walking around — a mother jogging," he said."It was embarrassing...they're calling me a faggot in front of everybody."
Rabbit is now commuting from his parents home in Ponoka, Alta., 100 kilometres south of Edmonton, because he feels safer there.
He carries pepper spray and said when he comes back to Edmonton he'll try to find a different place to live.
"What if they stabbed me what if they had a knife or something," he said. "They seemed like those type of people."
Despite the incident, he is not discouraged from being openly gay and says he hopes his story inspires people to talk about homophobia.
The Hate Crimes Unit of the Edmonton Police Service is investigating the attack, said spokesperson Patrycia Thenu.
Police are looking for a silver 2000 Acura 3.2TL with a spoiler that fled the scene.