Suspect thinks man is gay, points gun at him in video

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News
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Detroit police are investigating the source of a video posted to Twitter in which a man points a gun at another man because he appeared to be gay, officials said Wednesday.

The suspect recorded the video and posted it on Twitter. The account to which the video was posted has since been made private, and the video can no longer be viewed.

Shanelle Williams, spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department, said police are “aware of the video and are investigating it.”

The incident occurred outside a liquor store in the 2200 block of Lyndon on the city’s west side, Williams said.

Police have not identified the victim in the video. Williams did not confirm or deny whether police have identified the person who recorded the video and pointed the gun at the man.

The investigation is “very fluid,” she said, and police are “following all leads.”

The suspect did not fire the weapon in the Twitter video, and no one was injured. The man recording the video in a car made multiple anti-gay slurs before calling out to the victim as he exited the store. When the victim approached the vehicle, the man recording the video pointed a gun at the victim and told him to take off his pants.

The video, which was originally reported by BLAC Detroit magazine, ended shortly afterward.

At around noon Wednesday, a Periscope user with the same username as the Twitter user posted a 48-minute video in which he says he would have killed the victim if he had taken off his pants.

The man in the Periscope video also says “that gun was fake, too. For any of (you) trying to incriminate me, that gun was fake.”

The Periscope account also has the same profile picture as the Twitter account.

Group to handle Detroit crimes against LGBT community

The investigation comes just a day after the nonprofit Fair Michigan Justice Project, Wayne County prosecutor and police announced a partnership to handle crimes against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

Under the partnership, Fair Michigan will provide an investigator and a special prosecutor to solve and prosecute serious crimes against the LGBT community.

On Wednesday, Dana Nessel, president of Fair Michigan, said someone notified her organization of the Twitter video “immediately.”

“This type of thing is exactly why (the partnership) was put in place,” she said.

“Here it is right on social media only hours after we announce the inception of this program.”

Nessel said it’s astounding that someone would not only point a gun at someone just because the victim appeared to be gay, but that the suspect would brag about the crime on social media.

Further, she said, the suspect didn’t appear to know if the victim was gay. The suspect only said the victim looked gay.

“That’s enough to threaten him?” she said. “That’s really scary.

“That’s why the LGBT community needs this special protection,” she said. “We feel more strongly now than we did yesterday that this is needed.”

Nessel said she has faith police will find and prosecute the suspect who made the video. She hopes Fair Michigan will deter further crimes against the LGBT community.

If those who issue threats to the LGBT community are arrested and prosecuted, Nessel said, “maybe you’re preventing a mass shooting at a club later.”

The project was created after Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy asked Nessel about how to better serve the LGBT population when they become victims.

“I noticed a national trend, ticking upward, of people being killed because of their sexual orientation,” Worthy said Tuesday.

ithibodeau@detroitnews.com

(313)222-2359

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

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