The New York Police Department say that the fatal shooting of a man in Manhattan's West Village early Saturday morning is being classified as a hate crime, NY1 reports.
The shooting took place shortly after midnight at West 8th Street and 6th Avenue near Gray's Papaya. The 32-year-old victim was shot in the face at point blank range and pronounced dead at Beth Israel Hospital.
“This fully looks to be a hate crime; a bias crime,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters today. “There were no words that would aggravate the situation that were spoken by the victims. They did not know the confronter. There was no previous relationship.”
According to the New York Post, the victim and a friend were walking on Sixth Avenue when they were approached by three Hispanic men. These men apparently asked the victim and his friend if they were "gay wrestlers" and made other homophobic slurs.
The victim and his friend were followed by two of these men, before one pulled out a gun and shot the victim in the cheek.
The shooter then ran downtown before being caught by police at MacDougal and West Third streets, the Post reports. The gunman has not been identified yet as he had phony ID on him.
The Post also reports that the shooter had earlier got into a confrontation after urinating outside a bar on Barrow and West Fourth streets. In that confrontation, the shooter had allegedly told a member of staff at the bar that he would shoot him, and that he was behind last year's school shooting in Sandy Hook.
There have been a spate of attacks on homosexuals in New York in recent weeks — Gothamist reports that there have been four such hate crimes in the past two weeks. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters today that there had been 22 bias attacks in the city so far this year, significantly higher than the 13 that had occurred at this point last year.
In a sad coincidence, Friday was the International Day Against Homophobia.
More From Business Insider