As friends and family remember slain dancer O’Shea Sibley, police are looking for a 17-year-old male they believe was captured on video fatally stabbing the dancer and activist at a gas station near Coney Island late Saturday evening. The case is also being investigated as a potential hate crime by the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force.
Sibley was stabbed to death around 11:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 29 at a gas station in Milford. Witnesses said the suspect claimed to be Muslim, and that the suspect said Sibley's spontaneous voguing while wearing only a bathing suit at the gas pump offended him and his religion. The suspect stabbed Sibley following an exchange of words. He then fled the scene while Sibley collapsed on the sidewalk mortally wounded.
While police investigate the crime, friends, and family remember the 28-year-old dancer.
“Sibley’s shocking murder follows a disturbing rise in violence and harassment against LGBTQ people across the U.S.,” GLAAD said of Sibley’s murder in a statement provided to Advocate. “This cannot continue. No one should have to fear for their safety just for being themselves. Politicians spewing lies and proposing policies filled with disinformation, and media repeating their false and dangerous rhetoric unchallenged, are creating an incredibly hostile environment that endangers all LGBTQ people and all queer people of color.”
The organization noted that Sibley was the fifth LGBTQ+ person killed recently.
Out New York City councilmen Erik Bottcher posted on social media that Sibley was killed for standing up for himself.
“O’Shae Sibley was killed by a group of men for voguing at a gas station in Brooklyn. They used anti-gay slurs against him,” Bottcher wrote. “He stood up for himself. They murdered him. This was a hate crime, and the people who did this must be brought to justice.”
The Human Rights Campaign's president Kelley Robinson wrote on social media, "O’Shae should still be here today. He should still be dancing and laughing and having fun with his friends. I’m sending so much love to his friends and family."
She added: "We must never believe that anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is “just politics” — it’s hate and it has devastating consequences."
Director and choreographer Kemar Jewel worked with Sibley for over ten years and featured him in the nearly seven-minute-long 2021 video Soft: A Love Letter to Black Queer Men, which Sibley co-choreographed. He remembered Sibley as not just a talented artist, but also as an outgoing and loving man.
“Anyone who ever met O’Shae was very blessed to know him,” Jemer wrote in a post to Facebook. “He was funny, unique, charismatic, and always knew how to have a good time. Most importantly, he loved HARD!!! He went above and beyond for his loved ones and made sure no one was ever sad around him.”
Sibley was with his friends at the Midford gas station just after 11 p.m. when the 28-year-old Philadelphia native began to spontaneously vogue while the gas pumped, attracting the attention of a group of teens and young men leaving the station’s store.
Witnesses said the men claimed to be Muslim and forcefully said Sibley’s dancing was an insult to Islam. They reportedly hurled anti-LGBTQ+ slurs at Sibley and his friends, and harsh words were exchanged. A physical altercation broke out and Sibley was stabbed in the torse. He walked a few steps before collapsing on the sidewalk. Police arrived a short time later, but Sibley was declared dead at the hospital.
The entire incident was captured on the gas station’s surveillance camera.
“They hated us cause we are gay!” Sibley’s friend Otis Pena posted to Facebook. “Screaming we Muslim and we don’t like gays!!!!! As we are innocently pumping gas and y’all decided to stab one of us!!!”
Police described the suspect as a 17-year-old male with dark hair last seen wearing a black shirt and red shorts.
A GoFundMe allegedly set up by Sibley's father has raised almost $10,000 dollars to go toward covering the costs over his death.
"We are raising funds for his home going service to help cover costs due to this untimely and undeserved hate crime incident that cut my son's life down just because of his sexual preference which was just not fair to him in his prime," the page states. "O'shae not only was the glue to this family, he was a great dancer and performer for the majority of his life. His spirit lit up every room he stepped in. His smile was contagious! To know him, was to live him. He did not deserve this. Everyone loved his spirit."
Anyone with information about the suspect or the stabbing can confidentially contact the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), via Crime Stoppers website, or via Twitter @NYPDTips.