NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The suspect charged in the shooting death of a gay man in Greenwich Village has been arraigned in a Manhattan court room on Tuesday.
Elliot Morales, 33, pleaded not guilty to a murder as a hate crime charge in the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Mark Carson. Morales also entered a not guilty plea for charges of criminal possession of a weapon and menacing a police officer.
Morales hurled homophobic slurs at Carson and then shot him, point-blank in the face on May 18, authorities said. The shooting occurred on the corner of 8th Street and Sixth Avenue, where the gunman first urinated on the street outside a bar, according to prosecutors.
A worker at the bar chastised Morales, who then walked into the bar, confronted the worker, pulled out a gun and made anti-gay remarks, prosecutors said.
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“He then says to both the bartender and the manager that if you do call the police, I’ll shoot you, and he opens up what is a gray hoodie, and shows what appears to be a shoulder holster carrying this revolver,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
Kelly then said the gunman, along with two others, came up to Carson and his companion outside.
“The three men were walking south, and one of them stopped and said to the two individuals walking north, ‘Look at these f***ots. What are you, gay wrestlers?’” Kelly said.
After that, Morales shot Carson in the face. Carson was pronounced dead at Beth Israel Hospital.
Shortly after shooting Carson, prosecutors said, a police officer ordered Morales to stop. Instead, the suspect pointed his gun at the officer, said prosecutors.
“This young man’s tragic death serves as a reminder of the discrimination that many of our family members, coworkers, and friends still face,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance. “This defendant is charged with targeting and gunning down Mark Carson on the streets of Greenwich Village because of his sexual orientation. Mr. Carson was murdered as he walked through a neighborhood that has long been a center of the gay rights movement and home to many LGBT New Yorkers, as well as a destination for LGBT visitors from around the globe.”
Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, chief of the Manhattan DA’s Office Hate Crimes Unit, is prosecuting the case, WCBS 880′s Irene Cornell reported.
If convicted, Morales could face life in prison. He is being held without bail at Rikers Island.
“Bias-related crimes have no place in New York City. By instilling fear, hate crimes tear at the very fabric of our communities,” said Vance. “My Office’s Hate Crimes Unit, along with the NYPD, will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute hate crimes of any kind. I would urge any victim of a bias-related crime in Manhattan to call our Hate Crimes Hotline at (212) 335-3100, provided it is not an emergency.”
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