A Greenwich Village killing has stunned locals in New York on Saturday, and officials are investigating the homicide as a potential hate crime, according to reports.
It has been claimed that the alleged killer, 33-year-old Elliot Morales, shouted a gay slur just before he fired a fatal gunshot into the victim's face.
The incident took place when the gunman confronted the victim and his male companion in Greenwich Village, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has described.
The suspect was seen urinated just outside a Greenwich Village restaurant prior to the killing. When he was done he went inside to question staff whether they were calling police on him. He warned them that if they did call the police he would shoot them, and he then revealed the firearm he was carrying, police have said.
The suspect is then said to have gone back out onto the street where he was joined by two friends. The three of them approached 32 year old Harlem resident Marc Carson and his companion, and made some kind of taunting comment, according to reports.
Carson at that point questioned the men about what they had said, however, they continued to shout out a number of other gay slurs. Eventually Carson reportedly began to walk away, but eye witnesses described that Morales chased after him.
One of his colleagues tried to convince Morales to let them go, but he continued after them nonetheless, according to reports.
When he caught up with Carson, Morales asked him, "Do you want to die here?"
He then pulled out his gun and shot Carson at point blank range in his cheek.
Carson was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead shortly after. Police soon apprehended Morales, and have since said they believe sexual orientation was the motive behind the murder.
"This clearly looks to be a hate crime," Kelly said at a news conference on Saturday.