What’s in a name? Murder – Ronald Gay, a hate crime case – Brief Article
When Ronald Gay walked into the Backstreet Cafe, a bar in Roanoke, Va., on September 22, police said he had murder on his mind. The 53-year-old drifter had asked patrons at another bar for directions to the nearest gay bar, saying he wanted to shoot gay people. Staff at the bar called the police after Gay showed them a gun. Once at the Backstreet Cafe, Gay pulled out a nine-millimeter handgun and fired at least eight rounds, killing Danny Lee Overstreet and wounding six other patrons. The motive? Police said Gay was apparently angry about being teased because of his name. “He said he was shooting people to get rid of, in his term, `faggots,'” Lt. William Althoff, of the Roanoke police department, told The Washington Post. “He told us people made fun of his name…. He told us he was upset about that.” Gay, a Vietnam war veteran with post-traumatic stress syndrome, has been married five times. He told police that some of his children changed their last name to avoid the jokes being made at their expense. Gay has been charged with first-degree murder and could face the death penalty. The trial could put prosecutors in an unusual position when it comes to gay issues. Just last year, they won the convictions of 12 men caught cruising in a local park and charged with violating Virginia’s sodomy law, which is seldom enforced. Ten of the men are challenging the law in state court.
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