SEASIDE - The Seaside Police Department is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for an assault on the beach Sunday.

The two victims, both nursing students at Shoreline (Wash.) Community College, had been at a bonfire on the beach just north of the Turnaround.

"We decided to wind up our evening by walking on the beach," one told the Seattle Times.

The newspaper reported that the two were invited by a group of people to stop at a campfire, but soon felt uncomfortable and left. They believe they were followed.

According to the Times report, one victim said someone in the group of assailants asked if the men were gay, then called them "queer" and "faggot" and attacked them.

The victims walked into the Best Western motel at 3 a.m. Sunday, and Seaside police were summoned. The men told police they were at a beach party when three to four men beat them unconscious, one victim suffering a significant eye injury. Both were transported by Medix Ambulance Service to Providence Seaside Hospital.

Seaside Police Chief Bob Gross considers the oceanside attack a hate crime because the victims are gay.

"Based on the sexual orientation of the victims, and comments made by the subjects during the assault, we are considering this a hate crime," he said.

Seaside police are asking for assistance in identifying people that were present at the party prior to the assault. One is described as a heavy-set woman about 30 years old, who had a black pony tail and wore gray sweat pants and a matching sweatshirt. Her boyfriend is in his 20s, husky, and has a shaved head that appeared to be growing out and possibly had a goatee. He wore a green shirt, or possibly a track jacket.

The third person is a white male in his mid-20s who wore a gray hoodie and gray Carhart-type pants. The fourth person is a man who had a pale complexion and wore his hair in a long black frizzy pony tail.

Gross said the hate crime designation means the sentence on conviction can be more severe. For local police, it represents a motivation for the crime. Also, it is reported for Oregon to monitor categories - for example, because of sexual orientation or ethnicity - of hate crimes.

Anyone who has information is asked to call the Seaside Police Department at (503) 738-6311.

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