Newark man sought in lesbian murder

BY Advocate.com Editors

May 14 2003 11:00 PM ET

Authorities obtained an arrest warrant Tuesday for a man they believe fatally stabbed a teenager early Sunday after she and her friends rebuffed his advances and said they were lesbians. Richard McCullough, 29, of Newark, N.J., faces murder and weapons charges, said Lt. Derek Glenn, a spokesman for the Newark Police Department. He also faces bias intimidation charges, because authorities have now determined that the teenager's sexual orientation played a role in the killing. McCullough was identified by witnesses, Glenn said.

A second man also was questioned by police but has not been charged. Glenn said the man, whose name was not released, was with McCullough when the two drove up to the victim, Sakia Gunn, 15, and four other teenage girls around 3:30 a.m. Sunday. The teenagers were waiting for a bus in Newark after a night out in New York City's Greenwich Village, Glenn said. "We're trying to determine what his role was in the incident," Glenn said of the second man. Gunn, a sophomore at West Side High School, was stabbed in the chest and died a short time later at University Hospital in Newark. The two men fled in a white station wagon, which Glenn said was recovered in East Orange.

A vigil will be held Wednesday evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the corner of Broad and Market streets, where Gunn was killed, according to Jaimekai Johnson, a 17-year-old friend of Gunn's. She said Broad and Market is not a friendly area for gays.

Sakia Gunn's uncle, Maurice Gunn, said the teenager lived with her mother and grandmother in the Vailsburg section of Newark. "My mother said she never worried about this kid because she always reported in--that was a routine," he said. "She was loved by everybody.... Now they have a picture
of her on their T-shirts at school." Gay rights advocates said they are more saddened than surprised by the killing. "We do know that, unfortunately, visibility can bring danger to us, but we also know that the alternative is unacceptable," said Clarence Patton, executive director of the New York-based National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

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