More than 100 mourners turned up on Saturday night to a candlelight vigil for Mark Carson, the 32-year-old gay man shot and killed by a homophobe early Saturday morning in New York City. Carson's murder, which is being treated as a hate crime, is the latest and most violent in a recent string of anti-gay attacks in the city, a place whose progressive leanings have yet to fully overpower a resilient streak of homophobia.
Carson's alleged killer, 33-year-old Elliot Morales, had been harassing numerous people in the West Village with two friends on Friday night before coming across Carson, who was walking with a friend. "Look at you faggots," Morales said to Carson, reports the New York Daily News. "You look like gay wrestlers."
Carson and his friend briefly confronted Morales before thinking better of it and walking away, according to court records, but Morales followed them and confronted them again, which is when things went from bad to worse. This from the Wall Street Journal:
[Carson's] friend told police that Mr. Morales asked the two, "You all want problems?" and then followed them to Eighth Street, where he confronted them again, asking, "Do you want to die right now?" the official said.
The friend told police he told Mr. Morales, "Do you want to shoot us in front of all these people?" and had taken his phone out, the official said.
Mr. Morales allegedly then asked, "Are you with him?" court records said. Mr. Carson replied, "Yes," at which point Mr. Morales allegedly shot him in the head, the court records said.
Carson was rushed to Beth Israel Hospital, but doctors were unable to save him, and he was pronounced dead at 1:40 AM.
Police say Morales, who had recently been staying with friends in the Rockaways, only got a few blocks from the scene of the crime before they caught up to him, at which point he reportedly threw down his gun and bragged about what he'd done, saying, "I shot him in the face."
Morales is now being charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime. The two men who had been hanging out with him on Friday night were questioned and released.
[Photos of vigil by Victor Jeffreys]