Police are trying to figure out if the man who was beaten with a baseball bat on Long Island Sunday night started the fight.
Although that attack was initially called a bias crime, police now say the confrontation apparently began when four men tried to stop Darryl Jackson from loitering outside a deli in Roosevelt.
"The motivation behind the assault may have more to do with the proprietor of that business trying to move on someone that was loitering or panhandling," Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey said Monday.
The investigation remains open and officials had not ruled out charging one or more of the defendants with hate crimes, the commissioner said.
Police are also looking into who threw the first punch since one of Jackson's alleged attackers had a black eye.
Three of the suspects work at the Nassau Road deli where the attack took place. The fourth, Juan Nunez, is an eight-year New York City Police Department veteran.