The recent strangulation deaths of three middle-aged gay men in Queens and Manhattan has the city’s gay community on edge, though authorities say they do not appear to be linked.
Elected officials [and Make the Road] urged the community on Tuesday to take precautions when meeting someone for the first time as police said two of the victims may have met their attackers online.
“It’s frightening,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who is openly gay. “I fear that there could be somebody out there targeting gay men.”
“People need to exercise extreme caution,” Dromm said.
The latest victim, Joseph Benzinger, 54, of Middle Village, was found strangled to death late Saturday night at the Crown Motor Inn in Elmhurst.
Queens middle school teacher David Rangel, 53, was discovered dead in his Jackson Heights apartment on Jan. 26. Two days later, Charles Romo, 48, was found tied up with a bag over his head in his apartment in Hamilton Heights, Manhattan.
Violence in the city’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community jumped 13% from 2010 to 2011, despite a national 16% drop during the same time, according to a national report produced by the New York City Anti-Violence Project.