Yet another anti-gay attack in the Village; Police trying to ID suspect

City Councilmember Corey Johnson, center, and state Senator Brad Hoylman, right, handed out fliers with the suspect's police sketch near the W. Fourth St. subway station on Friday morning.  Photo by Sam Spokony

City Councilmember Corey Johnson, center, and state Senator Brad Hoylman, right, handed out fliers with the suspect’s police sketch near the W. Fourth St. subway station on Friday morning. Photo by Sam Spokony

BY SAM SPOKONY | ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MARCH 7, 2014 |  Police are hunting for an unidentified male suspect who allegedly targeted and attacked an openly gay New Jersey man inside the W. Fourth St. subway station early on Sun., March 2.

The victim, identified by media reports as J.P. Masterson, 39, was waiting inside the station with his partner around 12:30 a.m. that day, when the suspect approached them and asked if they were gay, police said. When they tried to ignore him and walk away, the man reportedly punched Masterson in the face — breaking his nose, his left eye socket and several other bones in his face. After initial treatment of the injuries at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side, the victim is now waiting to undergo surgery, according to media reports.

Masterson told CBS on Thurs., March 6, that the attack was especially painful because he and his partner, Peter Moore, had just celebrated their 10th anniversary together with dinner and a Broadway show.

Police last week released a sketch of the suspect — a white male believed to be in his late 20s, and around 5 feet 8 inches tall and 170 pounds.

As of press time, police still had not made a positive identification, and the investigation is ongoing.

 

Police sketch of bias-attack suspect in Sun., March 2, assault at the W. Fourth St. subway station.

Police sketch of bias-attack suspect in Sun., March 2, assault at the W. Fourth St. subway station.

In hopes of aiding that investigation, state Senator Brad Hoylman and City Councilmember Corey Johnson were outside the W. Fourth St. subway station last Friday morning, passing out fliers showing the police sketch and informing rush-hour passersby about the alleged hate crime.

The fliers noted that police are offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.

“And this is as much about supporting the victim as it is about catching the suspect,” said Hoylman. “We need to let [Masterson] know that the neighborhood stands behind him, and that we’re not going to tolerate this behavior.”

Hoylman and Johnson said they have not yet had a chance to meet with the victim, but that sentiment of support cut straight to the heart of something Masterson — who was apparently raised in New York City — was quoted as saying last week.

“I can’t believe this happened in my city that I grew up in,” Masterson told CBS. “The West Village is where I first came out and explored and felt accepted… . The fact [is] that it’s now a danger zone.”

The March 2 subway attack took place just steps away from the W. Eighth St. and Sixth Ave. site of last May’s fatal shooting of Mark Carson, 32, another gay man. Elliot Morales, the 33-year-old man who allegedly shot Carson in the head, is currently facing charges of murder as a hate crime.

The Village saw a spike of several other anti-gay attacks last year, including some both inside and outside the W. Third St. McDonald’s that is also located just steps away from the site of the recent assault on Masterson.

“It’s really very distressing that so many of these incidents have been taking place in this neighborhood,” said Hoylman.

The state senator pointed out that last year’s attacks targeting L.G.B.T. individuals, as well as blacks and Jews in other parts of the city and state, led him to hold a hearing that has compelled State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to conduct an audit of the state’s oversight of hate-crime reporting. DiNapoli, who announced the audit in December, has said it will focus on making sure that police departments across the state are reporting those types of incidents correctly, and that cops are being trained to handle the crimes properly and effectively.

“It’s really very distressing that so many of these incidents have been taking place in this neighborhood,” said Hoylman.

The state senator pointed out that last year’s attacks targeting L.G.B.T. individuals, as well as blacks and Jews in other parts of the city and state, led him to hold a hearing that has compelled State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to conduct an audit of the state’s oversight of hate-crime reporting. DiNapoli, who announced the audit in December, has said it will focus on making sure that police departments across the state are reporting those types of incidents correctly, and that cops are being trained to handle the crimes properly and effectively.

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