Authorities are investigating the overnight shooting death of a 32-year-old man in New York's Greenwich Village as a hate crime after police said the gunman may have hurled anti-gay slurs.
Authorities are investigating the overnight shooting death of a 32-year-old man in New York’s Greenwich Village as a hate crime after police said the shooter may have hurled anti-gay slurs.
"This clearly looks to be a hate crime," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters on Saturday.
While investigators continued to piece together the events leading up to the shooting, police identified the victim as Marc Carson of Manhattan.
Carson was outside a 99 Cent Pizza on Sixth Avenue before midnight with a friend when they were approached by the suspect, the friend told police, according to NBC New York. After the suspect hurled anti-gay slurs, Carson responded and then walked away, the friend told police.
The suspect approached Carson and the friend again on West 8th Street near Sixth Avenue, law enforcement officials said. The suspect then allegedly pulled out a .38-caliber revolver and shot Carson in the face.
Carson suffered a single gunshot wound to the head, according to a police release. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Beth Israel Hospital.
The suspect was later apprehended after trying to outrun an officer who tried to question him. Police say officers found a silver-colored revolver in the suspect's possession. The man was identified as Elliot Morales, 33, of Manhattan, NBCNewYork.com reported. Police said Morales had an arrest for attempted murder in 1998, NBCNewYork.com reported.
The police are seeking to question two unidentified men who were said to have been with him earlier in the evening, law enforcement officials said.
The suspect had a separate encounter at a West Village restaurant earlier in the evening, police say. A manager and bouncer at the restaurant said the suspect made anti-gay comments and threats, NBC New York reported.
“I am horrified to learn that last night, a gay man was murdered in my district after being chased out of a Greenwich Village restaurant and assailed by homophobic slurs,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement on Saturday.
“There was a time in New York City when hate crimes were a common occurrence,” the mayoral hopeful said. “We refuse to go back to that time. This kind of shocking and senseless violence, so deeply rooted in hate, has no place in a city whose greatest strength will always be its diversity."
Sharon Stapel of the New York City Anti-Violence Project said in a statement she was “deeply disturbed” by the shooting.
Police said that a gay couple was attacked in a separate incident on May 10 near Madison Square Garden and severely beaten. One of the victims later required eye surgery. Another gay couple was assaulted by a group of men only days before in the same midtown area of the city.
"New York has seen a shocking increase in hate crime in recent weeks," Assembly Member Deborah Glick said. "We must stand together as one city and declare that New York is not open for bigotry."