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UPDATE: Greensboro police don’t believe attack on gay veteran was hate crime

Garry Gupton, suspect in attack. Source: Qnotes

Garry Gupton, suspect in attack. Source: Qnotes

UPDATE: Greensboro police say no evidence links to attack being a hate crime. (Scroll down for more information.)

A Greensboro man is in jail facing charges of seriously beating and burning a man he met earlier at a gay nightclub.

Garry Joseph Gupton, a 26-year-old Greensboro water resources employee, is facing a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflicting serious injury, according to jail records and  this article by Matt Comer of Qnotes, a Charlotte-based LGBT news publication. Jail records show Gupton is being held at the jail in lieu of a $250,000 bond.

The 46-year-old victim Stephen Patrick White, who is also a military veteran, was beaten and burnt on over 50 percent of his body from the Nov. 9 attack at a downtown Greensboro hotel. A friend told QNotes that White has had his hand and part of his arm amputated as a result of injuries from the weekend assault.

An employee of the Battleground Inn in Greensboro called 911 around 4:30 a.m. after hearing a man screaming at the hotel at the same time a fire alarm went off, according to QNotes.

Stephen White, victim in Greensboro attack. Source: qnotes

Stephen White, victim in Greensboro attack. Source: qnotes

Police have not described the circumstances preceding the attack, and no charges have been filed indicating the attack may be considered a hate crime. A call to the Greensboro police department seeking additional information was not immediately returned Thursday morning.  (see update below.)

Equality North Carolina, a gay rights group, said in a news release that it is monitoring the investigation.

“We do not yet know the full details of this crime, but anytime a person is harmed, especially in such violent fashion, it is a tragedy regardless of circumstances,” Equality NC director Chris Sgro said in a written statement. “Equality NC is in communication with the Mayor and the City of Greensboro to determine exactly what happened and make sure that the crime is fully investigated.”

A fundraiser will be held this Saturday at the Chemistry Nightclub, 2901 Spring Garden St. in Greensboro, and all proceeds from the door, and tips from the bar and drag shows that night will be donated to help White. Online donations are also being accepted here.

UPDATE (12 p.m., Thursday): Greensboro police told N.C. Policy Watch late Thursday morning that they do not believe that the attack was a hate crime, where the victim was targeted because of his sexual orientation.

“He (Gupton) never verbalized to us that he intended to kill somebody,” said Susan Danielsen, a Greensboro police spokeswoman. “There’s absolutely no evidence to indicate that this is a hate crime.”

Some national outlets in the LGBT community, including the Advocate, have reported that the attack was premeditated, a conclusion that police believe is incorrect.

“We’re not sure what caused Mr. Gupton to act so violently,” Danielsen said. “This is not a crime motivated by hate.”

Danielsen said more charges may be filed in connection with the fire that was set in the hotel room.

Gupton is in custody in the Guilford County jail, and could not be reached for comment.

(Note: this post has changed from the original to reflect that Greensboro police do not believe White was robbed in the course of the attack, contrary to what was reported in QNotes and other publications.)

9 Comments


  1. Sean D Sorrentino

    November 13, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    The beauty of it not being a “Hate Crime™” is that it doesn’t matter. Attacking people, beating them, and burning them over 50% of their bodies is a very serious crime. It is a very serious crime no matter what the provocation. Whether the attacker was motivated by animus towards a gay man or was motivated out of just being a hateful bastard, it’s still a serious crime and deserving of a serious punishment.

    How serious? According to the jail records you linked, he’s charged with Assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. That’s a Class C felony. The only more serious crimes are First and Second Degree Murder, Rape, some types of child sexual assault, and manufacturing/possessing/using a Nuclear, Chemical, or Biological Weapon of Mass Destruction.

    The ordinary sentence for AWDWWITKISI for a person who has no previous record is 58-73 months, but for crimes that are particularly aggravated, and I would call burning someone over 50% of his body “aggravated,” the range is 73-92 months.

    And all this is true whether he attacked the man over his sexual orientation or not. This is actual justice. Pretending that some victims are better than other victims is not.

  2. Kevin

    November 13, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Could not have said it better.

  3. Sarah Ovaska

    November 13, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks for your comments Sean. There’s no dispute that a brutal attack like this is serious – especially considering that the victim in this case is in critical condition with what authorities say are life-threatening injuries. My post was simply reporting that police do not believe it falls into a narrow band of crimes seen as hate crimes where a person’s race, religion or sexual orientation (or other factors) what motivated the perpetrator to commit the crime. More details may come to light in this case, and I hope to report them as they become public.

  4. Paul

    November 14, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Re: Sean’s post and hate crimes. The purpose of hate crime laws is not to punish assailants or killers harder if their victim happens to be in a special group. Hate crime laws are meant to be a deterrent against demographic terrorism — a hate crime is not only a tragedy for the victim, but culturally/societally it creates real fear and intimidation along demographic lines. I understand the arguments against hate crime laws; just pointing out that their *intent* is meant to be more societally protective than individually punitive.

  5. candy Lapan

    November 15, 2014 at 12:09 am

    There is also a benefit at Q Lounge in Greensboro from 2-6pm on Nov. 15th. There will be a silent auction with thousands of dollars worth of goods that were donated from individuals and businesses all around Greensboro. The online fund was also set up by Q Lounge. 708 West Market St. Greensboro.

  6. candy Lapan

    November 15, 2014 at 12:10 am

  7. candy Lapan

    November 15, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Also a general note, it would never fall in the band of crimes considered hate crimes in NC because NC does not cover sexual orientation in its hate crimes laws.

  8. Wendy

    November 15, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    SEAN – anything that was sensible about your post WAS COMPLETELY NEGATED by the last line: “Pretending that some victims are better than other victims is not.” Your IGNORANCE & NARROW-MINDEDNESS (perhaps your own hate) is waving like a giant flag, sweetheart! I have never EVER heard anyone anywhere indicate or imply that a victim of a hate crime was more/less better than any other human being. ONLY A FOOL WHO IS LOOKING TO BE INTENTIONALLY INSULTING would ever do such a thing. You need to save your future commentaries for things which you actually DO understand. You may understand a few things you Googled about sentencing — BUT YOU HAVE ALOT TO LEARN ABOUT HUMANITY.

  9. Sean D Sorrentino

    November 17, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Wendy: Apparently your Caps Lock key is malfunctioning.

    “Hate Crimes” laws are a specific attempt to legislate thoughts. In some people’s minds, treating a person like this is somehow worse because of what they were thinking at the time. No. The act itself was wrong. We may speculate as to why they would do something like this, but in the end we don’t really care. What he did was wrong and deserving of the severest punishment. What led him to select this particular person is irrelevant.

    We do justice a disservice when we pretend that one legislative category of victims is deserving of special protection above and beyond another category of victims. One person is never better than another person. Before the law all people are equal. That’s the bedrock principle of our system. A system about which you have a lot to learn.

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