A 17-year-old has been charged with murder in the killing of O’Shae Sibley, who was stabbed to death on July 29 after a dispute over his dancing at a Brooklyn gas station.
Mr. Sibley, a gay man who was a professional dancer and choreographer, was returning from New Jersey to his home in Brooklyn with four friends that night when the group stopped at a gas station in the Midwood neighborhood, the police said on Saturday. As they filled up their car, they played Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” album and began dancing, officials said, at which point a group of men approached and told them to stop.
“We can see on the video the heated verbal dispute quickly turns physical,” Joseph Kenny, an assistant chief at the New York Police Department’s detective bureau, said at a news conference with Mayor Eric Adams announcing the arrest.
The men yelled homophobic slurs and anti-Black statements at Mr. Sibley, who was Black, and his friends, Mr. Kenny said, all while demanding they stop dancing. Bystanders acted as “peacemakers,” and the men shouting at Mr. Sibley’s group began to disperse, Mr. Kenny said — except for the defendant.
Video of the encounter, which lasted about four minutes, shows the teenager stabbing Mr. Sibley once in the chest, “damaging his heart,” Mr. Kenny said. A witness said the teenager then jumped into a Toyota Highlander that sped off. Mr. Sibley was taken to Maimonides Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead that night.
The teenager, whom the police did not name, lives in Brooklyn and was identified by the police earlier this week using video and by working with other city agencies, Mr. Kenny said. The suspect turned himself in through an arrangement with his lawyer, Mr. Kenny added. He has been charged with second-degree murder, which has been charged as a hate crime, and with criminal possession of a weapon.
At the news conference, Mr. Adams said that Mr. Sibley’s family had been affected by something that “clearly” was a hate crime.
“This is a city where you are free to express yourself,” Mr. Adams said. “And that expression should never end with any form of violence.”
For many people, the death of Mr. Sibley — whom friends described as friendly, fun-loving and passionate about his art — was a shocking and violent reminder of the discrimination L.G.B.T.Q. people face. It inspired an outpouring of grief over several days.
On Thursday evening, about 80 mourners gathered at the Stonewall Inn, the Greenwich Village bar known as the cradle of the gay rights movement. The next night, at an event at the Midwood Mobil station where Mr. Sibley was killed, attendees were encouraged to “vogue as an act of resistance” — a reference to the style of dance performed by Mr. Sibley and his friends. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Greenwich Village announced it would hold a memorial on Saturday evening. Public figures have also paid tribute: On Beyoncé’s website, “Rest in Power O’Shae Sibley” was prominently displayed against a black backdrop.
Summy Ullah, a 32-year-old gas station attendant who witnessed the confrontation, said one of the men who approached Mr. Sibley and his friends had said: “I’m Muslim. I don’t want this here.”
At the news conference on Saturday, flanked by leaders from the city’s gay and Muslim communities, Mr. Adams emphasized that Mr. Sibley’s killing was not evidence of hatred directed at L.G.B.T.Q. people by Muslims in New York, and spoke about how both groups have been victims of hate. The two communities “stand united against fighting any form of hate in this city,” he said.
Lee Soulja Simmons, executive director of the NYC Center For Black Pride, said he met Mr. Sibley about six years ago when Mr. Sibley was performing in an Off Broadway show about Black pride.
Mr. Simmons said that Black gay New Yorkers were wrestling with his death, while also living with the specter of hate crimes and discrimination being directed at them because of their identities.
Mr. Sibley “was doing nothing more but vogueing and dancing here,” he added. “He did not deserve to die in that way.”
Maria Cramer, Wesley Parnell and Erin Nolan contributed reporting.