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Village Anti-Gay Attack Targets Couple Celebrating Anniversary

A sketch of the suspect in an anti-gay attack in the West Fourth Street subway station on March 2. | NYPD

A sketch of the suspect in an anti-gay attack in the West Fourth Street subway station on March 2. | NYPD

BY SAM SPOKONY | Police are hunting for an unidentified male suspect who allegedly targeted and attacked a gay New Jersey man inside the West Fourth Street subway station early on March 2.

The victim, whose name was withheld by police but identified himself to the media as J.P. Masterson, 39, was waiting inside the station with his partner around 12:30 a.m. when the suspect approached them and asked if they were gay, police said. When they tried to ignore him and walk away, the suspect allegedly punched Masterson in the face –– breaking his nose, his left eye socket, and several other bones in his face. After initial treatment for 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 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.

NYPD releases sketch in West Fourth Street subway station assault but no positive identification made

Police on March 6 released a sketch of the suspect –– who is believed to be a white man in his late 20s and around 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds –– and said the following day they have still not made a positive identification and that the investigation is ongoing.

In hopes of aiding that investigation, State Senator Brad Hoylman and City Councilman Corey Johnson were outside the West Fourth Street subway station early on March 7, passing out flyers showing the police sketch and informing rush hour passersby about the alleged hate crime.

“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.”

City Councilman Corey Johnson (foreground) and State Senator Brad Hoylman hand out flyers with the suspect's sketch on March 7. | SAM SPOKONY

City Councilman Corey Johnson (foreground) and State Senator Brad Hoylman hand out flyers with the suspect’s sketch on March 7. | SAM SPOKONY

Hoylman and Johnson said they have not yet had a chance to meet with the victim.

“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 that it’s now a danger zone.”

His attacker, who he said shouted at him first in Polish and then broken English, started pushing him toward the tracks before assaulting him and only stopped when Masterson threw a drink in his face.

“There was 50 or more people and no one said anything, did anything,” he said of onlookers at the station.

The March 2 subway attack took place just steps away from the West Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue 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 at the West Third Street McDonald’s that is also located just steps away from Masterson’s beating.

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

He pointed out that last year’s attacks targeting LGBT individuals, as well as blacks and Jews in other parts of the city and state, led him to hold a hearing that resulted in State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli launching an audit of hate crime reporting compliance in the state.

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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