Brooklyn’s top prosecutor has leveled a new charge against the suspect he says shot a man dressed in drag in Bushwick last month: attempted murder as a hate crime.
District Attorney Ken Thompson said the new indictment, which came in the wake of a brutal beating of a transgender woman in the same neighborhood two weeks later, should signal to homo- and transphobic bigots that hate doesn’t have a home here.
“The pattern of acts of violence against the LGBTQ community is shocking and unacceptable,” Thompson said during a Tuesday press conference at Bushwick’s Maria Hernandez Park. “My hope is that the announcement of this indictment will send a very clear message that hate-filled acts of violence against the LGBTQ community and any member of our community will not be tolerated.”
The Sept. 27 attack began when the gunman and two friends spotted three men dressed in drag on Putnam Avenue between Broadway and Bushwick Avenue and yelled anti-gay slurs, according to police. The three gay men walked in the opposite direction, but the suspects followed and continued the barrage of insults, cops said. That is when the 20-year-old shooter pulled out a gun and let off six shots, hitting the 22-year-old victim once in the backside, Thompson said.
The defendant faces as many as 33 years in prison if convicted on the attempted-murder charge, eight more than he would have without the hate-crime enhancement. The latest accusation comes stacked atop more than a dozen other charges. The other suspects are accused of menacing as a hate crime.
The transgender woman beaten by a group of goons on Bushwick Avenue near Halsey Street on Oct. 12 is still in critical condition and the perpetrators remain on the loose, Thompson said.
And just this past weekend, a brute prefaced an attack on three gay women at a Bedford-Stuyvesant bar with a homophobic slur, the lawman said.
The latest hate-crime indictment is the first since Thompson created a division of the District Attorney’s Office specifically for bringing such prosecutions.
“The indictment reflects our determination to protect all the people of Brooklyn,” said Thompson. “We will not tolerate bigotry.”
Thompson added that bias offenses have ticked up in the borough during the past four years.
“Brooklyn is changing, we all know that, but one thing that should not change is fundamental decency,” said Thompson.
A gay rights advocate applauded the vocal pro-tolerance stance.
“LGBT people want little more than to live our lives in peace, to walk down streets and feel safe,” said Mattthew McMorrow, a spokesman for Empire State Pride Agenda. “How is it possible that so many young adults can see a gay man or a trans woman and not recognize our humanity?”