Police say that the man accused of a seemingly random murder in New York City was shouting anti-gay slurs before pulling out a revolver and shooting a man in the face.
Late Friday, Harlem resident Marc Carson was out on the town with a friend, standing just blocks away from the gay rights landmark, the Stonewall Inn, when he was confronted by a group of three men.
One of the three men yelled out a gay slur and asked, "What are you, gay wrestlers?" according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
The two men stopped, turned and, according to Kelly, said to the men taunting them,"What did you say?" - then kept walking.
Two of the men continued to stalk Carson and his friend while repeating anti-gay slurs.
According to Kelly, the gunman asked if the two men were together. When they said yes, Kelly said, "we believe that the perpetrator says to the victim, 'Do you want to die here?'"
The gunman then pulled out a revolver and shot Carson point blank in the face.
"There were no words that would aggravate the situation spoken by the victims here," the commissioner said. "This fully looks to be a hate crime, a bias crime."
Police later arrested 33-year-old Elliot Morales as the suspected gunman.
Bias attacks in New York City, considered on of the most gay-friendly cities in the country, have been on the rise this year, said Kelly.
The city has so far logged 22 incidents compared with 13 during the same period last year.
Timothy Lunceford, 56, who has lived in the West Village for 35 years, told the New York Times that the killing shows the kind of intolerance not seen in the city for decades.
"It's outrageous," Lunceford told the Times. "They say we’ve worked through homophobia, but it’s not gone away. It’s just not usually as out there in the open like it was this morning."
Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker who hopes to become New York's first openly gay mayor, condemned the attack on her home district.
"There was a time in New York City when two people of the same gender could not walk down the street arm-in-arm without fear of violence and harassment," said Quinn. "We refuse to go back to that time."