NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With a black eye, a bruised forehead and several other injuries, a man described the terrifying experience of being attacked just because he is gay – in the wake of a spate of similar attacks this month.
“It’s very sad, but I’m lucky I’m alive, you know,” Dan Contarino said.
The attack happened Monday night, as Contarino was walking past a homeless shelter at East 4th Street and Avenue D in the East Village. He said a man approached him, started up a conversation and called him an anti-gay slur.
“And then the next thing I know, I was in the hospital. I have no memory of what exactly happened to me,” Contarino said.
The suspect who allegedly attacked Contarino has been identified as Roman Gornell. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Gornell has an extensive arrest history and has been living at the Bowery Mission for the past month.
He is still wanted by the NYPD.
Kelly said Contarino and Gornell both lived at the Bowery Mission, and had known each other about a month. They’d had drinks and pizza in the area earlier that night, and as they were returning, Contarino allegedly told Gornell he was gay, Kelly said.
Gornell at first talked about how he had friends and family who are gay, but then allegedly snapped and attacked him.
The attack on Contarino was one of two on gay New Yorkers within a period of 24 hours.
The second incident happened around 5:20 a.m. Tuesday in SoHo. Police said a couple, ages 41 and 42, were walking on Broadway near Prince Street when two men began yelling anti-gay slurs.
A physical altercation ensued and one of the victims suffered an eye injury, police said.
In that incident. Fabian Ortiz, 32, and Pedro Jiminez, 23, were arrested and later charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime, police said.
Both attacks came just hours after thousands of people marched against the killing of Mark Carson, an openly gay man, in Greenwich Village.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared “it’s not a good day for New York,” during a Tuesday afternoon press conference with Kelly on the recent anti-gay attacks.
“No person, regardless of what they look like or who they love should ever walk down the street in fear,” the mayor said.