Police in New York City are asking the public's help in finding the second of two suspects accused of mugging two men at a bodega in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood on Saturday morning.
The incident took place at 1559 Broadway, around 2:10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4.
The victims, aged 36 and 28, had gone to the bodega to buy food. There, they were approached by, and got into a verbal dispute with, the two suspects, who made several anti-gay statements and slashed the victims with a glass bottle and a screwdriver before forcibly taking their property.
One of the victims, who is gay, was called a “f****t” during the attack. The suspects also allegedly made comments like “It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” to the victims, according to activist Samy Nemir-Olivares, who spoke with the victims and shared details of the attack on a Twitter thread.
The suspects made off with an iPhone, keys, a wallet, and cash, before taking off in an unknown direction, according to police.
The 36-year-old victim, who suffered puncture wounds to his chin and his chest, and a cut on his lips, was eventually taken to Woodhull Medical Center and treated for his injuries. His 28-year-old friend was slashed on his right shoulder and right hand and treated at King's County Hospital, reports the New York Daily News.
According to Nemir-Olivares, the 36-year-old victim was able to secure himself in a storage room following the attack. But when he emerged, short of breath, with a lung that had been punctured by the screwdriver, bodega staff refused to call the police or an ambulance and asked him to leave. He stumbled outside and stood in the middle of the street, where he was able to waive down an ambulance.
“If it weren't because he was able to walk and stop the ambulance he might not be even alive,” Nemir-Olivares tweeted. “It was a miraculous coincidence that saved him.”
Nemir-Olivares also noted that the other victim was a straight man, which underscores the importance of including protections based not only on a person's actual, but perceived, sexual orientation or gender identity in nondiscrimination and hate crime laws.
The NYPD's 83rd precinct was notified of the incident, and the NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the assault and robbery as a possible anti-gay hate crime, reports the Brooklyn Paper,
Police subsequently issued a photo, captured by surveillance cameras, of the suspects and asked the public to help them identify the assailants.
One suspect was described as having a medium build and a beard, wearing a red baseball hate, red shirt, red-and-white pants, and red shoes. The other suspect was described as having a heavy build and black hair in dreadlocks, and wearing a black shirt, black shorts, and black-and-white sandals.
Local activists have organized a “March Against Anti-LGBTQ Hate,” kicking off from the Halsey Street subway station, just across the street from the bodega, and ending at the Central Avenue Station in Bushwick, on Wednesday, Sept. 8, from 4-8 p.m. The march was intended not only protest the attack, but the bodega staff's refusal to help the victims afterward.
Also on Wednesday, police announced they had arrested 31-year-old Jonathan Carter, of Brooklyn — later identified by police as the suspect in the black shirt and black shorts — in connection to the incident. Police are still searching for the other assailant, as well as a third person of interest — seen wearing a red hoodie and jeans in surveillance footage — whom police believe is connected with the incident, according to a tweet from the Hate Crimes Task Force.
Those with information about the robbery or the suspects are asked to call NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline at (800) 577-TIPS (for Spanish, dial (888) 57-PISTA). Tips can also be submitted online via the Crime Stoppers website, or via Twitter by messaging @NYPDTips. All calls and messages will be kept confidential.
The incident comes as New York City has experienced a spike in crime ever since the city loosened social distancing restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to NYPD statistics, there have been 376 recorded hate crimes in the city from the start of the year to Sept. 5 — marking a 99% increase from the 189 recorded hate crimes that occurred during the same time period last year.
The city has also experienced several high-profile attacks believed to be motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias over the past few months, including incidents in which a doctor who had to have his jaw wired shut after being attacked and called anti-gay slurs, a transgender woman who was stabbed with a screwdriver while riding the subway, a man who was stabbed with an ice pick while riding the subway, and a straight man who was stabbed and called anti-gay slurs after he attempted to stop a man from harassing women at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.
Editor's note: This story was updated to include information about a third person of interest being sought by police in connection to the assault.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!