The death of Anthony Callao, an 18-year-old who was fatally beaten Saturday night, is being investigated as a hate crime by the NYPD, according the the
Callao, who had recently graduated from high school, was attending a party in an abandoned house in Woodhaven Saturday night. According to the News, five suspects forced their way into the party and caused mayhem, while shouting homophobic slurs. Witnesses told the News that Calao “had a girlfriend and was not gay, although the party hosts [were].”
When Callao fled, the suspects chased him and allegedly beat him nearly to death. He was taken off life support at Jamaica Hospital on Monday.
Though Callao was not known to be gay, his death is being mourned as an act of hate violence by LGBT groups from Queens Pride House to the Anti-Violence Project. This killing “appears to have all the elements of a hate crime,” the News quotes NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. This continues a trend of the police department dispatching their Hate Crimes Unit in such cases, even if the victim didn’t identify as gay. Prosecutors have also been using hate crimes laws to go after killings where the suspects scream homophobic slurs while killing heterosexuals, such as the 2008 beating of Romel Sucuzhañay and murder of José Sucuzhañay. The two brothers had been huddling for warmth on a cold winter’s night, when their assailants mistook them for being gay and began taunting them with anti-Hispanic and homophobic slurs.