Metro Weekly

Suspect Charged With Hate Crime in Murder of O’Shae Sibley

The 17-year-old who allegedly stabbed O'Shae Sibley is facing murder and weapons charges, with hate crime enhancements.

O’Shae Sibley – Photo: Jake Kelly, via GoFundMe.

The 17-year-old suspect accused of fatally stabbing gay dancer O’Shae Sibley following a confrontation at a Brooklyn gas station has turned himself into police custody.

The teenager, whose name is being withheld due to his underage status, was arraigned on Friday night on charges of murder as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon, reports CBS New York.

Sibley, a 28-year-old professional dancer, was dancing and voguing with friends to a Beyoncé song at a gas station while filling up their car in the late evening hours of July 30. Sibley and his friends were wearing swimsuits, having taken a day trip to the Jersey Shore earlier.

One member of the group was wearing a tight-fitting and short-cut bathing suit, which attracted negative attention from onlookers.

Members of that group, including the alleged assailant, confronted Sibley and his friends, yelling anti-gay and anti-Black slurs during an initial confrontation, according to Joseph Kenny, the assistant chief of the New York Police Department’s detective bureau, who spoke at a Saturday news conference.

The groups dispersed temporarily, but then re-engaged after further comments from the assailant and others.

Members of Sibley’s group sought to defend themselves, getting into a scuffle with the alleged assailant, who brandished a weapon and stabbed Sibley once in the torso. Despite the efforts of Sibley’s friends to control the bleeding, Sibley was transported to Maimonides Medical Center and later pronounced dead.

The stabbing drew immediate condemnation from city officials, including Mayor Eric Adams, who spoke at the Saturday news conference.

“This is a city where you are free to express yourself, and that expression should never end with any form of violence,” Adams said. “We’re going to create an environment where the city is safe and one should be allowed to dance, to express themselves, to dress the way they want.”

Adams added that the attack was “something clearly that was a hate crime,” but contested “the impression that it came from hate from the Muslim community towards the LGBTQ+ community” — an assertion the mayor said was “not true.”

Some witnesses who saw the attack and later spoke to the press claimed that the teenager — as well as others objecting to Sibley and his friends voguing — had cited Muslim beliefs when taking offense at the men’s actions. However, New York-based CW affiliate WPIX reports that the boy’s lawyer says his client is a “good Christian boy” who was born in the United States to Russian parents and has never been in trouble with the law prior to this incident.

Advocates within the Islamic community nonetheless condemned the stabbing.

“As Muslims, we are commanded to stand up for justice, even if it means standing against our own selves. We unequivocally condemn the unjust murder of O’Shae,” Sonya Ali, executive director of the Muslim Community Center, said in a statement.

Sibley, a member of the House of Du’Mure-Versailles within the city’s ballroom community, was honored by friends and family in tributes, with even Beyoncé posting a short tribute on her website, reading, “Rest in Power, O’Shae Sibley.”

Sibley’s family has since launched a GoFundMe to help cover funeral costs and burial expenses, which as of Monday morning, had raised more than $63,000. A funeral service is planned for Tuesday at the Met concert hall in Sibley’s hometown of Philadelphia.

On Friday, a rally and vigil was held in Sibley’s memory in Brooklyn, with a second vigil in Manhattan on Saturday.

At the Friday vigil, several mourners took the opportunity to dance or vogue at the gas station where Sibley died, while others placed flowers, balloons, and Pride flags at a makeshift memorial.

Actor and dancer Jason Rodriguez, 33, who was part of the hit FX series Pose, which focused on the New York City ballroom scene, told The City that is felt cathartic to dance on the spot where Sibley had died. Rodriguez met Sibley years ago when they made a voguing video about Philadelphia. 

“I feel like he was very happy to see and to feel us continue to vogue,” Rodriguez said. “The aggression made towards him, we were able to diminish it by continuing to vogue in his honor.”

At Saturday’s rally, people marched from The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in Chelsea to the Christopher Street Pier for a vigil that later turned into a dance pit.

“What better way to honor someone who was stolen from us so prematurely than to live our lives exactly like him,” said mourner Gary Hill.

Otis Peña, one of Sibley’s friends with the dancer at the time of his killing and who later recounted the stabbing in an emotional Facebook video, told the crowd that Sibley had been defending his friends.

“O’Shae stood up for what he believed in,” Peña said. “O’Shae stood up because he was a protector.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated to include additional reporting that the alleged attacker’s lawyer claims his client is Christian, not Muslim, as previously reported by several other New York City and national news outlets. 

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