Officials in New York City have condemned an anti-gay hate crime where a man was stabbed to death because a suspect allegedly thought he was gay.
Steven Torres, 22, was charged with the hate crime for the stabbing of Ever Orozco, 69, near Roosevelt Avenue and 90th Street in Elmhurst, Queens, police have said. He was also charged with criminal posession of the weapon used in the killing.
The victim was stabbed as he was putting coins into a parking meter, witnesses said, according to NBC 4 New York. Witnesses ran after Torres and held him until police arrived on the scene and took him into custody.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm said he had spoken with the 115 Precinct commander about the incident. “He told me he had never seen in all of his career a crime as horrific,” Dromm said.
Police have confirmed that Torres admitted to the stabbing, which took place in broad daylight on Monday, and said it was because of sexual advances from Orozco, and that the victim had blown him kisses.
Torres “offered what we call the gay panic defense,” continued Dromm.
Officials noted that it would be difficult for Torres to back up those claims, and predict that the suspect’s lawyers will stay away from that defence.
Last month, the American Bar Association “asked lawyers not to use that any longer in any criminal cases,” Dromm said.
According to equality groups, the victim was not gay
LGBT rights activists have become increasingly concerned at a recent increase in hate crimes in the most populous city in the US.
The victim’s widow said her husband was stabbed seven times.
“My husband was a very happy person, very nice with everybody, he has no problem with anybody,” Alba Orozco said, speaking to CBS 2.
The suspect also faces charges for a previous stabbing incident last week, where the victim received stab wounds to the arm. He reportedly said he was defending himself against sexual advances then.
Late in August it was discovered that a 21-year-old trans woman who was violently beaten until brain damaged, and later taken off life support after being pronounced brain dead, was attacked just feet away from a New York Police Department precinct.
New York City police last month said they were looking for six suspects involved in a homophobic attack in Chelsea. Six people targeted two gay men as they left a cinema holding hands on West 24th Street, and beat them whilst hurling verbal anti-gay abuse.