Greenwich Village is a mostly residential area of the west side of Lower Manhattan. The largest majority of people who live there are basically upper middle class families. Known in the latter part of the 19th century through the present, the “Village” has been labeled a haven for artists, as well as the bohemian capital of New York City. It is also credited as the birthplace of the Beat movement of the East Coast. The neighborhood is encompassed by Broadway to the east and the Hudson River to its furthest point west. To the south lies Houston Street and it travels north to 14th Street. The neighborhood essentially centers New York University and Washington Square Park.
Living among the wealthy residents who live in stylish apartment buildings or own their own renovated brownstones, there is a large gay community. This group is known to mostly frequent the bars and clubs of the west village.
While traveling through the Village it is not unusual to run across openly gay members of its population. Two men, or two women, walking together holding hands with each other is more the rule than its exception. Especially north of the Avenue of the Americas which is the unofficial line of demarcation separating the east and west village. Within the community’s whole there is the realm of gay men and lesbians and the bars they frequent as well as the domain of straight men and women who visit clubs that fit a heterosexual lifestyle.
It was on a corner of the Avenue of the Americas that Mark Carson, 32, heard the words “You want to die tonight?”
Carson was walking with a companion as he was being followed by Elliot Morales, who was repeatedly shouting anti-gay slurs at the two. After his final hateful proclamation, he allegedly shot Carson in the face with a silver revolver. Carson was found fatally wounded by police lying in the street and later died of his injuries after being taken to Beth Israel Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
A short time later, Morales was picked up when a police officer spotted him a few blocks away from the crime scene. The officer heard the description of the perpetrator on his radio and made the arrest upon seeing Morales.
Approximately 15 minutes before the murder took place, the alleged killer was noticed urinating outside a fashionable restaurant a few blocks from the crime scene, according to New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Kelly labeled the murder a hate crime. “There were no words that would aggravate the situation, and the victim did not know the perpetrator,” he said.
Before a commencement address that he delivered in White Plains, when speaking about the incident, he went on to say “It is clear that the victim here was killed only because and just because he was thought to be gay. There is no question about that.”
Police also questioned two unidentified individuals who had been seen with Morales moments before the shooting took place. The Police Department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said that the two men were questioned as witnesses to the murder and were not, considered suspects at this time. He also said that they were cooperating with the authorities.
According to state Department of Correction records it was found that Mr. Morales had been found guilty of a robbery and served more than 10 years in prison for his conviction of that crime. Until his arrest he had been staying with one of the two men who is now being questioned as a witness at his home in Far Rockaway, Queens. Police found another gun amongst Mr. Morales’s belongings at that location.
According to an undisclosed source, Mr. Morales’s sister, Edith Gutierrez, said she did not believe her brother could have committed a crime of such bias. She said that they have gay relatives and her brother had never shown any signs of homophobia. She also said that when she spoke with her brother in jail, “he said he doesn’t remember anything; he was under the influence, he was drinking.”
After making his first appearance in Manhattan Criminal Court, he was charged with murder and weapons charges, according to the Wall Street Journal. Pending his next court appearance he is being held without bail as ordered by Judge Robert Stolz.
Morales, said nothing at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court and his attorney chose not to comment on the case.