The man who police say hurled homophobic slurs at a gay man on a Manhattan street before firing a single fatal shot to his head appeared in court Sunday, charged with committing murder as a hate crime.
Elliot Morales, 33, who appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court, is also charged with criminal possession of a weapon and menacing, according to the complaint filed Sunday by the Manhattan district attorney's office.
Authorities said the Greenwich Village resident used a silver revolver to kill 32-year-old Mark Carson early Saturday as he walked with a companion in Morales' neighborhood.
Morales was ordered held without bail pending another court appearance on Thursday. His attorney, Reginald Sharpe, could not be reached for comment.
On Saturday, seconds before opening fire in the lively Village streets just after midnight, police say Morales followed Carson and a companion through the Village, asking if they "want to die here," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
Police said Morales then yelled anti-gay slurs before shooting Carson point-blank in the face in a neighborhood long known as a bedrock of the gay rights movement.
Morales was soon arrested a few blocks away.
He has a previous arrest for attempted murder in 1998, police said. Details of that arrest weren't immediately clear.
Saturday's shooting scene is a few blocks from the Stonewall Inn, the site of 1969 riots that helped give rise to gay rights when patrons reacted to police harassment.
Saturday's violence follows a spate of recent bias attacks on gay men in New York, but this was the first deadly one. Kelly said police were looking into possible links between the incidents.
Authorities said they could not immediately identify Morales because he was carrying forged identification. But investigators learned his name after the forged ID was submitted to the department's Facial Recognition Unit.
Of the other recent New York bias attacks on gay men, one was reported last week on nearby Christopher Street, where a 35-year-old man told police he was beaten up and heard anti-gay words after leaving a bar.
On May 10, two men trying to enter a billiards hall on West 32nd Street were approached and beaten by a group shouting homophobic slurs, police said.
And on May 5, a man and his partner were beaten near Madison Square Garden after a group of men wearing Knicks shirts hurled anti-gay slurs at them.
The shooting stunned a city where, in many neighborhoods, same-sex couples now walk freely holding hands. It also comes at a time when the gay marriage movement is gaining momentum in many parts of the United States. Twelve states have legalized same-sex marriage, including New York in 2011.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.