A gay man was stabbed to death in a suspected homophobic attack at a Brooklyn gas station late on July 29 after he and his friends were confronted by a group of strangers who allegedly targeted them because of their sexuality.
O’Shae Sibley, 28, was voguing and listening to music with friends at the Mobil gas station at 1921 Coney Island Avenue in Midwood after they returned from a beach celebration. They were just two blocks away from the home of Sibley’s friend, Otis Pena, when they stopped for gas.
Surveillance video footage and accounts from Pena’s Facebook page recall a sudden turn of events at the gas station, where the alleged assailants started voicing homophobic slurs at them, according to Pena.
“They hated us ’cause we are gay!” Pena wrote in a Facebook post. “Screaming [we’re] Muslim and we don’t like gays!!!!! As we are innocently pumping gas and y’all decided to stab one of us!!!”
Pena posted a 14-minute video on Facebook describing the scene and expressing raw emotion over Sibley’s death. Pena said he applied pressure to Sibley’s stab wound immediately after the attack, but it was too late.
It was shortly after 11 p.m. when the NYPD responded to a call of a stabbing at the gas station, where they found Sibley with a stab wound to the torso. EMS responders transported him to Maimonides Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Witnesses said Sibley attempted to de-escalate, according to NBC News, which also reported that a 17-year-old suspect has been identified. No arrests have been announced as of Aug. 1. The NYPD only told Gay City News the case is being investigated as a “possible biased incident.”
“They killed my brother right in front of me,” Pena said in the video. “I’m covered in his blood… They murdered him because he was gay, because he stood up for his friends.”
Originally from Philadelphia, Sibley was a dancer and choreographer who was remembered by his father, Jake Kelly, as an individual whose “spirit lit up every room he stepped in,” according to a GoFundMe page created by the family to raise money for Sibley’s funeral. Kelly did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Aug. 1.
“O’Shae not only was the glue to this family, he was a great dancer and performer for the majority of his life,” Kelly wrote on the GoFundMe page, which raised more than $7,000 as of Aug. 1.
Sibley was a member of the Ailey Extension program, which offers dance classes, workshops, student performances, and panel discussions with instructors and musicians from around the world. The Ailey organization issued a statement mourning his death.
“O’Shae had incredible energy in the studio and was loved by instructors and fellow students,” the statement noted. “He recently shone during a special demonstration of West African dance at The Ailey Spirit Gala. We are shocked and heartbroken that O’Shae’s life has been taken by senseless violence, and extend our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.”
Councilmember Inna Vernikov, a Republican who represents the 48th District where Sibley died, tweeted about the attack on July 30, saying that there was a “tragedy in Brooklyn” and that “circumstances and details” were “fluid” and had not yet been made public.
She said at the time that she was in touch with the police and would provide an update as soon as more information became available, but she did not post about it since further details were revealed. A staffer who answered the phone at Vernikov’s office on Aug. 1 told Gay City News that the councilmember did not have any further statement prepared.
Councilmember Chi Ossé, who made history alongside Crystal Hudson in 2021 when they were elected as the first out LGBTQ Black councilmembers from Brooklyn, said in a tweet that he was heartbroken.
“This weekend, a Queer Black man was killed in Brooklyn for voguing,” Ossé wrote. “I want to express my sincerest condolences to his family and the entire Ballroom community. Rest in Power, O’Shae.”
Erik Bottcher, an out gay councilmember representing Manhattan’s District 3, said Sibley was killed “for voguing at a gas station in Brooklyn.”
“They used anti-gay slurs against him,” Bottcher said. “He stood up for himself. They murdered him. This was a hate crime, and the people who did this must be brought to justice.”
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams also spoke out in response to Sibley’s death.
“O’Shae Sibley should be alive,” the speaker said in a tweet. “No one should have to live in fear of violent attacks for merely being themselves. My heart goes out to his family, friends and our LGBTQIA+ communities still reeling from this senseless act of hatred tonight.”
Mayor Eric Adams briefly mentioned the case during a press conference on July 31.
“Now, you have an incident like we saw over the weekend with this young man who was experiencing that hate crime, and we will find the person responsible,” Adams said.