The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force announced it is searching for seven young people in connection with the beating and stabbing of a gay man in Hell’s Kitchen late Wednesday night that was caught on video.
The crime is being investigated as a potential hate crime, and local leaders spoke out against the attack. Meanwhile, the victim reached out to publicly thank the two strangers he believes saved his life with their actions.
Around 11:35 p.m. on Wednesday, the NPYD received a report of an assault in progress in Hell’s Kitchen. When officers arrived on the scene, they found Rafael Ribot, 44, suffering from a stab wound to the leg.
“Further investigation determined the victim was walking when a group of male individuals made an anti-gay statement towards the victim,” a spokesperson for the NYPD said in a statement on Thursday. “When the victim confronted the group over the remark, two of the individuals punched the victim in the face, while another male displayed a knife and stabbed the victim in the leg.”
Ribot told local CBS affiliate WPIX he was talking on his cell phone when the passing group hurled anti-LGBTQ+ slurs at him. Rather than back down Ribot instead responded to the abuse, and the situation escalated quickly.
“They go from being in front of you, to being around you,” Ribot told WPIX. “And the words turn into fists, and then it becomes a knife, and then possibly another knife.”
Ribot was beaten about the head and stabbed in the leg by at least one knife. He was taken to a local hospital in stable condition with what he described as “a large, four-inch deep puncture wound in my leg.”
He also said one of his attackers might have been a female.
The attack stopped when two strangers arrived on the scene. The attackers ran away, and the two strangers then used a belt to apply a tourniquet to Ribot’s leg. He believes their actions may have saved his life.
NYC Council Member Scott Bottcher said reports of the attack left him “enraged” and he promised the community would not back down from the potential hate crime.
“New York City is a symbol of diversity and freedom throughout the world, and Hell’s Kitchen is a haven for the LGBTQ+ community,” Bottcher said in a statement posted to social media. “Hate crimes are among the more pernicious forms of crime because they are intended to strike fear into entire communities. We will not be cowed. We will not be intimidated.”
Out gay NY State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal (whose district includes Hell’s Kitchen) echoed Bottcher’s anger and resolve.
“If confirmed, this will be yet another example of the type of vicious and hateful attacks on LGBTQ people that are on the rise across our country,” Hoylman-Sigal said in a statement posted to social media. “It’s even more chilling when they happen in the midst of our own LGBTQ community, but we must stand strong against this hatred and outrageous attempts at intimidation.”
While Ribot was left shaken by the experience, he also said he was heartened by the actions of the two strangers who helped him. He thanked them for more than just saving his life.
“Thank you for reminding me what the city’s about,” he said.