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Hate crime attack leaves man paralyzed

TORONTO – An openly gay man who is a church choir conductor will be paralyzed from the waist down after being viciously attacked early Saturday in New Glasgow in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

Scott Jones, 27, was slit across his throat and stabbed twice in the back, resulting in the severing of his spine, according to authorities.

“He was stabbed because he’s gay,” said Jason Cormier, who is the fiance of Jones’ sister, Cara Jones. The couple and the Jones family believe that the attack was an anti-gay hate crime.

Amy Punke, who was part of the group that was with Scott Jones when he was attacked, said she too believes that her friend was targeted because he is gay.

“He’s a musician and he’s very open about his sexuality in that he encourages conversation,” she said. “In fact, just two days ago we were talking about him going to high schools and junior high and talking to teens that are afraid of coming out. Just the nature of the evening and the people that we were with and the fact that he was targeted out of all of us.”

A 19-year-old man has been arrested and will be charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace, local media reported.

Scott Jones and a friend were walking home from the Acro Lounge and Eatery in New Glasgow after attending the opening of a local art gallery. They were separated from the rest of the group that had left the bar, when a man distracted Jones’ friend and another man attacked Jones from behind. The friend and other members of the group were unharmed.

Cara Jones told local media that the attacker whispered something in her brother’s ear during the attack, but that he could not remember what was said.

The victim was rushed to Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow, then airlifted to Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax. He is expected to survive his injuries and was able to describe to police a description of his attacker, who he said he saw at the bar that night.

Scott Jones studied at the University of Manitoba, where he conducted the Women’s Choir. After moving to New Glasgow, he became a church organist and choir director for both youth and adult groups at the church.

“He’s harmless, one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” Cormier said.