A man who allegedly pepper-sprayed a transgender woman during an anti-LGBTQ attack in Queens earlier this summer has been arrested and hit with three charges, including two hate crimes.
David Gonzalez, 34, was busted at 9:45 p.m. on July 23 for his role in a June 29 attack during which he and 24-year-old Paola Custodio allegedly walked up to two trans women — Bianey Garcia and Norma Ureiro — and spouted anti-LGBTQ slurs before pepper-spraying them.
Gonzalez was arrested in the same location where the attack took place — Roosevelt Avenue and 82nd Street in Jackson Heights — and charged with two counts of second-degree harassment and a third charge of second-degree assault. The assault charge and one of the harassment counts were charged as hate crimes.
During the early morning attack last month, Gonzalez and Custodio allegedly called the two women “fucking faggot,” said “you’re not a real woman,” and accused them of being sex workers. According to police, Custodio was the first to unleash pepper spray, hitting Garcia twice before being apprehended. Gonzalez, who left the scene before Custodio’s arrest, returned later and pepper-sprayed Garcia yet again before fleeing a second time, police said.
“I literally was scared,” Garcia recalled during an interview on July 2. “I didn’t know if he was going to use a weapon or a knife. I was spilling water in my eyes. I remember someone took my hand and put me on a bench. I sat down and called the police again.”
In a phone interview following Gonzalez’s arrest, Garcia told Gay City News that she does not like to see people of color incarcerated but is still “a little happy” that Gonzalez was arrested.
“As a community of color, we need to stop this hate violence against the trans community and vulnerable communities,” said Garcia, a former sex worker who is now an organizer for Make The Road New York. “I’m also seeing that my attack is getting a lot of coverage by the news because I’m a person who works for a nonprofit organization and I do a lot of work for the community. What happens to other cases where people survive hate crimes and police don’t provide them the service?”
The June 29 attacks were not the only LGBTQ-related hate crime incidents in New York in recent months. Rainbow Flags at Alibi Lounge, a Manhattan gay bar, were set on fire in separate incidents on May 31 and July 8. Tyresse Singleton, 20, was arrested on July 9 and charged with two counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree and two counts of arson in the fifth degree in connection with the two incidents. The criminal mischief counts were charged as hate crimes.