Former lover says councilman's killer was always "calm"
July 26 2003 12:00 AM ET
A former lover of Othniel Askew, who shot and killed New York City councilman James Davis before being gunned down by police, told reporters Thursday that he saw no warning of Askew's homicidal rage. The lover, a 36-year-old Brooklyn man who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, told the New York Post, "It's amazing, because he seemed so damn calm." The man's surprise at Askew's rampage matches that of everyone else who knew the political wanna-be who moved into the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn two years ago. "It's a real nice apartment--a duplex," the lover said. The man also was very surprised to learn that Askew had been taking HIV medication. He said he had spoken to Askew on Wednesday, just hours before he killed Davis, to reconfirm plans to meet for dinner at a Manhattan sushi restaurant. "He just said, 'I'll see you later,'" the lover said.
The Post reported that Askew was an HIV-positive man who made meticulous preparations for his own death before setting out to assassinate his political rival. Before shooting Davis, Askew, 31, laid out on a living-room table his last will and testament, along with a detailed note to a brother specifying where all his bank accounts and other valuables were, police said. Police also found his HIV medications elsewhere in his fastidiously neat apartment. No suicide note was discovered, but police, in searching for a motive, said they were looking through the contents of Askew's laptop. Police sorted through evidence and witness testimonies Thursday and said the ambitious Askew was despondent over his inability to get on the primary ballot against Davis. He also was enraged by his belief that Davis was doing everything possible to squeeze him out of the race.
Hours before his City Hall attack, Askew telephoned the FBI and told authorities there that his eventual victim had threatened to expose him as gay and harm his family unless he dropped a political challenge, investigators say. Askew also said that Davis had offered him a $45,000 payoff, $15,000 yearly payments, a no-show staff job, and a Brooklyn building for $1 if he backed out of the Democratic primary for Davis's seat. Askew laid out his claims of threats and offers in what investigators described as a rambling morning telephone call before he shot the 41-year-old first-time councilman Wednesday on a balcony overlooking the council chamber.
Court records show that Askew had been charged with assault in 1996 and accused of beating his domestic partner with a hammer. Askew pleaded guilty to harassment and signed an order agreeing to stay away from the man.
The mayor of Paris sent condolences to New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday for a crime that mirrored an incident in Paris last year. Bertrand Delanoe said in his letter, "In the name of
Parisians, I express our indignation and our full solidarity with the elected officials of New York and all of your citizens." Delanoe was stabbed at his own City Hall during an all-night public party that he was hosting in October. The assailant said he attacked the openly gay mayor because he disliked homosexuals. Delanoe suffered a serious wound to the abdomen, but he recovered and returned to work the following month.