Shortly after midnight Friday night, Mark Carson, 32, was gunned down in New York’s West Village by an assailant shouting anti-gay epithets. Police identified the shooter as Elliot Morales, 33. Morales and two other men were apparently looking for a fight in Greenwich Village:
Sources said Carson and his 31-year-old friend were dressed in tank tops and cut-off shorts with boots. Look at these f—–s,” one of the suspect’s crew barked at the pair. “What are you, gay wrestlers?”
The two groups exchanged words, but Carson and his pal decided it was better to walk away. But as they turned the corner, the suspect and one of his cohorts confronted the pair again and taunted them by shouting “f—-t” and “queer,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
One of the bigots got nervous and ran away as the suspect asked the two gay men, “Do you want to die here?” Kelly said. Suddenly, the suspect whipped out a silver .38-caliber revolver and shot Carson in the face. The shooter ran away as Carson collapsed on the sidewalk.
As Carson was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival, police arrested Morales just four blocks away:
Around 4 a.m., a police officer, responding to a radio alert of the shooting, came across the alleged gunman and apprehended him. The suspect turned over a silver Taurus .38-caliber six-shot revolver, according to police.
Police later identified the suspect as Elliot Morales, 33. Police said the suspect had forged identification and they used facial recognition technology to determine his true identity.
Morales faces a charge of second-degree murder as a hate crime, authorities said.
The identities of the suspect’s two companions — at least one of whom Kelly said left the suspect before the shooting — are still not known.
According to the New York Times, Morales has served more than ten years in prison for robbery, and had refused to answer any questions for several hours, until he was finally identified through facial recognition. He was arraigned on Sunday in Manhattan Criminal Court, and ordered held without bail. Police have also questioned the other two men who were with Moralies, but they say that the two men were questioned as witnesses, not suspects. Their identities have not been released.
Morales and the other two had apparently spent at least part of that night targeting gay men in the Village for a confrontation:
According to Mr. Kelly, the gunman was in the neighborhood with two other men shortly before midnight when he urinated in front of the Annisa bar and restaurant on Barrow Street at West Fourth Street.
The man then went inside and angrily confronted the bartender with antigay slurs, the police said, pulling up his gray hooded sweatshirt, and revealing a silver revolver in a shoulder holster. He threatened the bartender that if he called the police, he would be killed, the police said.
The man and two companions then headed south on the Avenue of the Americas and ran into Mr. Carson and another man at West Eighth Street, the police said.
Police Commissioner Kelly describe the murder as a hate crime:
Kelly said that the killing appeared to be “a hate crime, a bias crime.” There were no words that would aggravate the situation, and the victim did not know the perpetrator, he said.
According to Kelly, there have been 22 bias-motivated events this year. That’s up “significantly” from 13 this time last year.
Local LGBT leaders had been concerned about the increasing anti-gay violence taking place over the past several weeks. Last Wednesday, leaders staged an anti-hate crimes protest rally outside of Madison Square Garden. Hundreds turned out for a vigil at the scene of the murder Sunday night. The LGBT Center will hold a march to the crime scene on Monday afternoon.