Before opening fire early Saturday, the gunman confronted the victim and his companion in Greenwich Village and asked if they "want to die here," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. The violence follows a series of recent bias attacks on gay men in New York, but this was the first deadly one.
At a news conference, Kelly described the events leading to the violence that erupted in a lively social scene a few blocks from Washington Square Park and New York University:
Late Friday night, about 15 minutes before the shooting, the gunman was seen urinating on a street outside a bar located blocks from the Stonewall Inn, a birthplace of the gay rights movement.
He then entered, asking the bartender whether he would call the police after having seen what is normally an act warranting only a summons.
He told both the bartender and the manager, "if you do call the police, I'll shoot you." The man then opened his gray hooded sweatshirt to reveal a shoulder holster with a revolver.
The silver gun was used minutes later in the killing, the commissioner said.
While in the bar, the gunman also made anti-gay remarks, Kelly said.
Out on the street, the gunman was joined by two friends as he approached the 32-year-old victim and a companion on Sixth Avenue, just south of 8th Street. One of the three men yelled out, "What are you, gay wrestlers?" according to Kelly.
The two men stopped, turned and, according to Kelly, said to the group taunting them, "What did you say?" — then kept walking north on Sixth before turning right onto 8th Street.
"There were no words that would aggravate the situation spoken by the victims here," the commissioner said. "They were confronted, they did not know the perpetrators, no previous relationships."
"This fully looks to be a hate crime, a bias crime," Kelly concluded.
Two of the group of three men kept following the victim and his companion, Kelly said, adding that witnesses saw the pair approach from behind while repeating anti-gay slurs.
Then, the commissioner said, "we believe that the perpetrator says to the victim, 'Do you want to die here?'"
The suspect produced the revolver and fired one shot into the cheek of the victim, who crumbled to the sidewalk.
The gunman fled to 3rd Street, where Police Officer Henry Huot — who had heard a description on his police radio — spotted him and ordered him to stop. The gunman crouched down, threw his revolver to the ground and was arrested on the edge of the university campus.
Police found the bleeding victim on the pavement. He was pronounced dead at Beth Israel Hospital.
Police identified him as Harlem resident Marc Carson.
Kelly said authorities did not immediately know the name of the suspect because he was using a false identity. The weapon believed used in the shooting — a Taurus .38-caliber six-shot revolver — was recovered.
Of the other recent New York bias attacks on gay men, one took place on nearby Christopher Street.
Elsewhere, a man and his partner were beaten near Madison Square Garden on May 5 after a group of men wearing Knicks shirts hurled anti-gay slurs at them.
And on May 10, two men trying to enter a billiards hall on West 32nd Street were approached by a group that shouted anti-gay slurs and beat them, police said.
Multiple lawmakers have condemned the violence.
"I am horrified to learn that last night, a gay man was murdered in my district after being chased out of a Greenwich Village restaurant and assailed by homophobic slurs," New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. "I stand with all New Yorkers in condemning this attack."
The Democratic mayoral candidate said there was a time in New York when hate crimes were a common occurrence — when two people of the same gender could not walk down the street arm in arm without fear of violence and harassment.
But "we refuse to go back to that time," she said. "This kind of shocking and senseless violence, so deeply rooted in hate, has no place in a city whose greatest strength will always be its diversity."
New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat whose district includes Manhattan's West Side, said he was outraged by the recent wave of anti-gay violence and called on New Yorkers "to unite against hate and gun violence."
And State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick declared that "New York is not open for bigotry."
The New York City Anti-Violence Project plans to gather on Friday night for what it calls a "Community Safety Night."