Anti-Gay Murder Follows Wave of Homophobic Assaults

An impromptu memorial has sprung up at the site of Mark Carson’s murder on Eighth Street just off Sixth Avenue. | DONNA ACETO

An impromptu memorial has sprung up at the site of Mark Carson’s murder on Eighth Street just off Sixth Avenue. | DONNA ACETO

BY ANDY HUMM | The point-blank shooting murder of a gay man this past weekend has galvanized concern in the LGBT community about a spate of anti-gay attacks in Manhattan that number at least seven since May 5.

Mark Carson, 32, a gay man out socializing with friends in the West Village, was shot in the face and killed just after midnight on the morning of May 18 by a gunman shouting anti-gay slurs. Apprehended nearby shortly after the shooting, Elliot Morales, 33, has been charged by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance with murder in the second degree as a hate crime, menacing in the second degree, and two weapons charges.

Less than 24 hours after the killing, hundreds turned out for a vigil at the site of the murder at 60 West Eighth Street just east of Sixth Avenue following a social media call from Adam Feldman, a writer for Time Out. On May 20, three days after the murder, elected officials and LGBT groups organized a march of more than 1,500 people from the LGBT Community Center on West 13th Street to a rally at the same site.

Elliot Morales charged with May 18 shooting of Mark Carson at close range after allegedly menacing Village bar

Just hours after that rally, Dan Contrarino, a club promoter, was attacked on Avenue D and East Fourth Street by an assailant shouting “faggot,” reported. Contrarino posted on Facebook, “GAY BASHED LAST NITE… back from small surgery…. CHEST XRAYS THIS AM…. suspect still at large… police n media waiting to interview me… U JUST WANNA CRY N MOVE ON…”

At 5 a.m. on May 21, a gay couple, Steven Dixon, 42, and Michael Coleman, 41, were attacked in Soho by men shouting anti-gay epithets and repeatedly punching Dixon, causing lacerations, swelling, and pain to his eye, the New York Post reported. Fabian Ortiz, 32 and Pedro Jimenez, 23, were arrested on charges of felonious assault as a hate crime.

Unlike these two attacks and four others since May 5, where violence erupted quickly, seemingly out of nowhere, Morales is alleged to have been carrying on in an abusive and menacing manner for some time prior to the Carson shooting. According to police, after urinating outside the Annisa bar and eatery on Barrow Street at West Fourth, he entered the establishment, spewing anti-gay slurs at the bartender, showing off a weapon, and threatening to kill him if he called 911. Morales and his friends then encountered Carson’s group on West Eighth Street, and Morales allegedly targeted anti-gay invective at them as well, including, “Look at you faggots, you look like gay wrestlers.”

Carson’s group moved on, but minutes later Morales — after his friends failed to dissuade him from another confrontation — allegedly came back at Carson’s group, saying to them, “You want to die tonight?” According to the district attorney’s complaint, Morales then asked Carson, “Are you with him?” and “Carson answered, ‘Yes,’ at which point the defendant shot Carson in the head with a silver pistol.” Carson was brought to Beth Israel Hospital and pronounced dead at 1:40 a.m.

Morales was confronted at 12:05 a.m. by police officer Henry Huot who ordered him to stop, “at which point the defendant drew a gun and turned toward Officer Huot, but the gun fell to the ground.” It contained three live rounds. Morales was arrested.

In recounting the murder, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, “It’s clear that the victim here was killed only because and just because he was thought to be gay.” The Daily News reported that “the commissioner added that Carson in no way antagonized his killer.”

Morales’ sister told the New York Times her brother, who was in prison for ten years for robbery, had not been homophobic and “he doesn’t remember anything [about the murder]; he was under the influence, he was drinking.”

The defendant “laughed in hideous glee as he confessed, a prosecutor told the judge” at Morales’ arraignment, according to the Daily News.

Carson worked as a manager at the Ciao Bella gelato store in Grand Central Terminal and was “very good with people” and open about being gay, a colleague told the Times. He had once been a client at the Hetrick-Martin Institute for LGBT youth, according to Thomas Krever, the agency’s executive director. Carson’s brother, Michael Bumpars, said Mark was a “courageous” and “beautiful” person, the Daily News reported.

Carson had recently moved from Harlem to Brooklyn, according to the Times. His friend Kay Allen told the newspaper, “His spirit was too big for this city. He didn’t have a negative bone in his body.”