NEW YORK — The man who police say hurled homophobic slurs at a gay man on a Manhattan street before firing a single fatal shot to his head appeared in court Sunday to face a charge of murder as a hate crime.
Elliot Morales, who appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court, is also charged with criminal possession of a weapon and menacing, according to the complaint filed Sunday by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
Authorities said the Greenwich Village resident used a silver revolver to kill 32-year-old Mark Carson early Saturday as he walked with a companion in Morales’ neighborhood in lower Manhattan.
Morales was ordered held without bail pending another court appearance on Thursday. His attorney, Reginald Sharpe, could not be reached for comment.
On Saturday, seconds before opening fire in the lively Village streets just after midnight, police say Morales followed Carson and a companion through the Village, asking if they “want to die here,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
Police said Morales then yelled anti-gay slurs before shooting Carson point-blank in the face in a neighborhood long known as a bedrock of the gay rights movement.
Morales was soon arrested a few blocks away.
He has a previous arrest for attempted murder in 1998, police said. Details of that arrest weren’t immediately clear.
Saturday’s shooting scene is a few blocks from the Stonewall Inn, the site of 1969 riots that helped give rise to the gay rights movement when patrons reacted to police harassment.
Saturday’s violence follows a spate of recent bias attacks on gay men in New York, but this was the first deadly one. Kelly said police were looking into possible links between the incidents.
The shooting stunned a city where, in many neighborhoods, same-sex couples now walk freely holding hands. It also comes at a time when the gay marriage movement is gaining momentum in many parts of the United States. Twelve states have legalized same-sex marriage, including New York in 2011.
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A march and rally will be held this evening in New York City in response to the recent spate of anti-LGBT hate crimes, according to a release from the New York City LGBT Community Center:
On Monday evening we will gather on the steps of the Center, along with the Anti-Violence Project, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, community members, other elected officials, and LGBT community leaders and allies, and march to the site of Friday’s shooting to demand an end to hate crimes against our community.
At the end of the march, we will rally to denounce hate violence, call for justice and to mourn the death of Mark Carson. Please join us, and help spread the word. New York is our city, and we aren’t going backward. Join us on Monday evening to honor Mark and help ensure everyone hears our message.
The march begins at the Center, located at 208 W 13th Street. More information here.