Stonewall gay bash
The L.G.B.T. community and elected officials were outraged at two attacks on gay men in the past few days, one in Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, the birthplace of the gay rights movement, and the other on a Chelsea street corner.
During the early hours of Sun., Oct. 3, two Staten Island men set upon a visitor from Washington, D.C., in the restroom of the Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher St., yelled anti-gay slurs, punched the victim and tried to rob him, police said. Matthew Francis, 21, was charged with attempted robbery, robbery, assault as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon, according to a spokesperson for District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. The weapons charge came after a gravity knife fell out of Francis’ pocket after the arrest. He was being held in lieu of $10,000 bail pending a court appearance. His co-defendant, Christopher Orlando, 17, was charged with two counts of hate crime assault. Orlando was freed on $10,000 bail pending a court appearance.
The two defendants reportedly asked the victim if he was gay, after which Francis shouted, “Get away from me, faggot. I don’t like gay people. Don’t pee next to me,” according to the charges. Francis then demanded $20 from the victim and when he refused, the two defendants punched him several times, court papers say.
Francis’ lawyer said, “There may have been a fight, but it certainly wasn’t a hate crime,” according to a Daily News article. Orlando’s lawyer blamed Francis, saying, “He punched the victim in the face and demanded money,” the Daily News said.
Two days earlier, on Friday night Oct. 1, a gang of about five suspects set upon three gay men who were embracing and kissing each other goodnight on 25th St. and Ninth Ave. after having dined together. Police arrested one of the suspects, Andrew Jackson, 20, a Chelsea resident, and charged him with gang assault. He is accused of yelling, “Go home, faggots. This is our neighborhood,” as the gang fell upon the victims shortly before midnight. One of the victims sustained a broken nose, another received cuts to his head and the third was hit with a metal trash can. Jackson was being held in lieu of $7,500 bail pending a court appearance on charges of gang assault and second-degree assault as a hate crime. Police are still seeking the others who were with Jackson.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose district includes Greenwich Village and Chelsea, said in a prepared statement, “I am appalled by the anti-L.G.B.T. hate crimes in recent days, including this weekend’s horrific attack inside the Stonewall Inn and an assault in Chelsea on the corner of 25th St. and Ninth Ave.” She noted the irony of a hate crime taking place in the birthplace of the L.G.B.T. rights movement, and she also referred to six recent suicides in the tri-state area of L.G.B.T. youths.
“These hate crimes highlight the climate of homophobia that L.G.BT. people face on a daily basis,” she said. Quinn paid tribute to the N.Y.P.D. Hate Crimes Task Force and the swift arrests in the two cases. “The hateful few who committed these acts do not represent New Yorkers, and our community will not be cowed by acts of violence,” Quinn said.
Pace student killed
Max Moreno, 21, a business student at Pace University who was identified as a small-time marijuana dealer, was shot to death shortly after midnight Wed., Sept. 29, in his 37th-floor apartment at 2 Gold St., police said.
Two men entered the apartment, and one with a gun demanded money, police said. When Moreno refused to comply, the gunman pulled the trigger but the safety catch was on, so he fired again and shot Moreno in the forehead, police said. The two suspects fled with a black box and escaped down the stairs after a brief confrontation in the hall with an Erie County Sheriff’s Office police officer who was visiting someone in the building.
A man and a woman had been in the apartment with the suspect to buy marijuana and were leaving when the two suspects burst in, according to a Daily News article. Also in the apartment was a woman friend of the victim, the News said.
Stephen Friedman, Pace University president, said the school was shocked and saddened by the death. Moreno, a Matawan, N.J., resident and a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, was scheduled to graduate from Pace next year. The fraternity held a vigil for Moreno Wednesday night.
Cashier cashed in
A former cashier at the Duane Reade store at 144 Bleecker St. was arrested on Wed., Sept. 29, and charged with stealing more than $12,000 from the store between July 12 and Sept. 28.
Mario Martin, 20, would put customers’ money in his pocket and give them change from his own money, according to the charges filed by the Manhattan district attorney. A co-worker spotted the theft and a surveillance tape confirmed it, said police who made the arrest the next day.
Woman reports rape
A woman, 19, told police that she was waiting for a friend at West Fourth St. and Sixth Ave. at about 7:30 a.m. Fri., Oct. 1, when an assailant pulled her into an alley and raped her. Police investigating the case said the woman was extremely drunk at the time of the attack.
A man who works in the Cable Building, at 611 Broadway near Houston St., told police that Carlos Torres, a fellow employee, hit him with a crowbar on the left shoulder and hand in the building’s driveway at 6:30 p.m. Tues., Sept. 28. Torres, 54, was charged with felony assault.
Waverly bag mugger
A woman, 37, was walking in front of 177 Waverly Place near Christopher St, around 7:15 a.m. Sat., Oct. 2, when a stranger approached, hit her in the face, snatched her bag and fled, police said. The victim chased the suspect, who dropped the bag and disappeared. The victim called police, who arrested Elijah Brown, 19, and charged him with robbery. The victim identified the suspect as her assailant.
Stolen eBay bike
Police arrested Kelis Livingston, 49, on Wed., Sept. 27, and charged him with the Sept. 9 theft of a bicycle from a building at 137 Varick St, at the corner of Spring St. Livingston made off with the bike, valued at $2,500, around 6:52 p.m., and some days later sold it for $300, according to charges filed by Manhattan D.A. Vance. The purchaser of the cycle then offered it for sale on eBay where the owner saw it and called police. Livingston was being held pending a court appearance on burglary and grand larceny charges.
Soho salon is nailed
A burglar broke into Grand Soho II Nail Salon, 68 Thompson St., sometime between 7:30 p.m. Sun., Oct. 3, and the next morning, police said. The manager found the roll-up gate open and the gate control box broken when he came to open at 9:30 a.m. Monday. The surveillance camera had been moved and $350 in cash was stolen, police said.
Dead in park
A man found lying on the ground in Columbus Park at 6 a.m. Sept. 26 was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he died two days later. The Medical Examiner determined on Fri., Oct. 1, that the man, Singh Harjinder, 58, died of head trauma. Police are investigating the circumstances of his death.
A 46-year-old man was severely beaten on Sat., Oct. 2, outside Little Giant’s Bar, 85 Orchard St. at Broome St., according to reports. The victim, not identified, was found in the middle of the street with blood pouring from his mouth. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was said to be in critical condition.
Bravest nabs cell snatcher
Firefighter Vincent Brennan of Engine Company 2 heard a woman calling for help around 7:30 p.m. Fri., Oct. 1, and stopped a suspect running toward the fire stationhouse, police said. The victim was chasing the suspect, Steven Varkony, 32, who had snatched the cell phone from her hand on E. Third St. between Avenues A and B. Varkony was held at the stationhouse for police, who charged him with robbery after the victim identified him, according to the complaint by the Manhattan D.A. The defendant was in jail pending a Nov. 3 court appearance.
Nkosi Callender, 19, was arrested and charged with two robberies, along with unapprehended accomplices, within a three-hour period Saturday night on the Lower East Side. One of the charges says Callender and an accomplice beat and robbed a man and a woman inside an elevator at 20 Catherine Slip in the Smith Houses around 6 p.m. Three hours later Callender was among a group who stopped a man on Catherine St., beat and stabbed him and stole his wallet and iPhone, according to another D.A. complaint. A folding knife and a box cutter were reportedly found on Callender. He was being held in lieu of $15,000 bail pending a court appearance.