Attendees at a “furries” convention in Northern California rushed to help a woman they saw getting beaten by a man outside their conference venue, authorities said Wednesday.
San Jose police officers responded to a disturbance in the city’s downtown at 11:57 p.m. on Friday to find six people who “were trying to restrain a male who was assaulting a female,” according to a police statement.
Demetri Hardnett, a 22-year-old San Jose resident, was booked on suspicion of felony domestic violence, officials said.
It was not immediately clear if Hardnett has a lawyer. NBC News reached out to Hardnett on Wednesday but did not immediately hear back.
The people who jumped in to help the woman were attendees at a San Jose Convention Center gathering called Further Confusion 2020 or FurCon, NBC Bay Area reported. The convention draws people who enjoy dressing up as anthropomorphic animals, many of them animal-themed characters from movies, cartoons, books, or comics.
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Robbie Ryans, 26, who filmed footage of the incident and posted it to Twitter, said he and another attendee were outside the convention area on a smoke break when the victim’s car pulled up in front of them.
“We heard a woman’s screams coming from inside and saw the passenger throwing full fists at whoever was driving,” Ryans told NBC News. “We got up and ran towards the car, my friend pulled open the door and we both held onto the attacker.”
The suspect tried to fight the two convention goers, before four or five other attendees joined the melee to keep the man down for police, according to the Ryans.
“This guy was just walloping a lady,” one of the intervening attendees, Kin Z. Shiratsuki, told NBC Bay Area. “He had to have hit her 10 times.”
The bystanders, some of whom were in costume, then pulled the man off the woman.
“I’ve had … my whole life, a bunch of taekwondo and Shotokan karate and I was able to grab him by the back, pull him out of the vehicle and put him on the ground,” Shiratsuki said.
Shiratsuki said she had no choice but to act.
“I just couldn’t sit there and watch that,” Shiratsuki said. “I’ve been a victim of abuse myself.”
“Even though we’re wearing animal costumes, we’ve got some humanity as well,” said convention attendee Khord Kitty. “It’s just a natural thing to want to help someone in need.”