The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, November 19
November 19th, 2013
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Gay Bar Shooting Spree Kills 2, Injures 6: 1980. Ronald Crumpley, 38, a former Transit Authority policeman and son of a minister, had been seen cruising the streets of New York’s Greenwich Village in his father’s stolen blue Cadillac. Dressed in a dark wool topcoat, printed shirt, a vest and a black fedora sporting a red feather, he fired three shots from an automatic handgun at Sim’s Deli shortly before 11:00 p.m., wounding at least three people and shattering the front plate glass window. Minutes later, he drove to Christopher Street and stopped in front of two gay bars, Ramrod and Sneakers, which were next door to each other. Dann Hedges, 30, was in Sneakers and watched as the horror unfolded. “The man in the Cadillac waited about two or three minutes, drove around the block, returned, stepped out of the car calmly, walked up to the curb and and shot a man standing on the curb waiting for a cab. The man fell to the ground, then he shot another guy who ran around the corner. He started spraying both bars through the plate-glass windows. Then he got back into the car and drove off.” Hedges scribbled the car’s license plate number on a dollar bill and gave it to police.
John Ganrecki, 27, was one of six who were injured. “I heard a noise up front. … It sounded like a string if firecrackers. People were falling on the floor screaming and yelling. My friend, Fred, said ‘Hit the floor! Hit the floor!’ … I was already on the flor, looking at my hand, and it was bleeding. It was like something in Al Capone; there was a row of bullet holes across the glass behind the bar.” Ronald Greenberg, 52, also survived the shooting. “It was a massacre, a bloodbath.”
After Crumpley drove off, he stopped again at 10th and Greenwich and fired eight more shots at another group of men. This time he missed, and as police cars approach he sped away. As many as 15 police cars chased Crumpley to Broadway and West 10th Street, where Crumpley abandoned the car. Officers found him trying to pull himself up underneath a van’s undercarriage.
All told, two were killed. Vernon Koenig, an organist at Greenwich Village’s St. Joseph’s church, died on the operating table at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Jorg Wenz, Ramrod’s 21-year-old doorman, died soon after surgery. Rene Malute, 23, was in intensive care, and five others were admitted in stable condition.
Crumpley was charged with murder, attempted murder, and possession of illegal weapons. Police found four weapons: a .357 Magnu, a .45 caliber automatic pistol, a 9mm automatic pistol, and an Uzi. Crumpley told police that he attacked the bars and the deli bcause he hated homosexuals. “I want to kill them all,” he said. “They’re no good. They ruin everything.” Lt. John Yuknes said, “He had a dislike for homosexuals, a rather intense one I would say, under the circumstances.”
The next day, about a thousand people joined a solemn candlelight procession to mourn those killed in the shooting. Arthur Bennett, one of those marching, told reporters, “Everybody’s been almost waiting for something like this. It’s not because we wanted it to happen but because we feared it. There have been a lot of people down here getting beat up.”
During Crumpley’s trail, the prosecution presented 35 witnesses, and the defense five. At issue was Crumpley’s mental state at the time of the shooting. Prosecutors contended the shootings were “deliberate and conscious.” Crumpley’s psychiatrist testified that Creumpley suffered from paranoia. Crumpley himself took the stand and said gay people were “agents of the devil” who were following him continuously for three years and were trying to convert him. The jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Wards Island. In 2001, a judge turned down Crumpleys’s request to be moved to a less restrictive psychiatric facility.
American Council of Christian Churches Calls AIDS “God’s Wrath”: 1989. Peter Steinfels wrote in the New York Times about a gathering earlier in November of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. Theyhad met to hammer out a document responding to the AIDS crisis. The bishops overwhelmingly decided to reject the theological proposition that AIDS was in any way a punishment from God, a position held by one in four Americans, according to a recent poll.
J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, had published 68 statements on AIDS from 45 different religious groups in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, and found “a remarkable consensus” across liberal and conservative religious groups recognizing that AIDS was not just a gay problem, “that special ministries should be established to serve AIDS victims, their families and friends, and that the civil rights of homosexuals or of those with the AIDS virus should be protected.” But, The Times learned, that consensus wasn’t unanimous:
The Bible repeatedly describes God as employing all kinds of terrors, natural and human, to punish those who disobey his commands. These biblical accounts naturally governed the reaction of the American Council of Christian Churches, a fundamentalist group that recently expressed dismay at the consensus discovered by Mr. Melton. The council, which claims to represent about two million ”Bible Christians,” promptly went on record upholding the idea that AIDS is God’s wrath visited on homosexuals and drug addicts, although for their ultimate benefit if they turn to Jesus.
If you know of something that belongs on the Agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).
As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.