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When Is a Hate Crime Not a Hate Crime?

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John Fox, leaving the 61st Precinct, after the Sandy killing.  

The guys Anthony was with on the night of October 8, 2006, were friends he’d made that summer at the piers. John Fox was a scrawny 19-year-old son of a divorced firefighter, a “pushover” as a kid, according to one old friend, who now was a scrappy ROTC candidate at suny Maritime in the Bronx. Gary Timmins was a marble-mouthed, slump-shouldered 16-year-old reform-school kid who’d been collared for a half-dozen different vandalism, minor-assault, and shoplifting crimes and made it through rehab once with no visible positive effects. Ilya Shurov, 20, whom everyone knew by his graffiti tag, Kaze, was smaller than Anthony but tougher. He’d tell Anthony stories about how he used to smoke angel dust and sniff horse tranquilizer, but now he said all he wanted to do was fish.

None of his friends were gay—open homosexuality wasn’t common where Anthony came from—but that night last year, Anthony says, he had an inkling his friends would go for his chat-room idea. He knew that John and Gary knew one older guy around the neighborhood who was gay and liked to offer pot to kids like them. He figured his plan would make sense to them. But more than that, this moment was both terrifying and exhilarating for him. Even if he was framing the whole deal as a way to score drugs, it was the first time he’d told anyone he’d ever met gay men before.

Fisheyefox and Drumnbase007 had agreed to meet at the corner of Emmons and Coyle. Mike Sandy typed in another IM that he’d be there in a half-hour. hurryup, the guys typed back.

On the way to Coyle Street, Anthony, John, and Gary ran into their friend Kaze—Ilya Shurov. They told them what they were up to, and he asked to come along. When the four friends got to the corner, Kaze and Gary stood on one side of the street, out of view, as John, then Anthony went to the blue Mazda to meet Michael Sandy for the first time. Anthony says it all seemed to be going well until Sandy noticed Kaze and Gary coming his way, and Sandy seemed to sour on the date and drove away. So much for the plan.

The four friends headed back to Anthony’s place and got back on the computer. They’d gotten a nibble; why not cast another line? It turned out they didn’t have to. A half-hour later, up popped another message from Drumnbase007: yo i wanna suck ur cock.

Anthony couldn’t believe it. “The guy wants to come back!”

Michael Sandy wanted another chance at a date, but with John Fox alone: all I wanna do is chill with just you and mess around, Sandy typed. The guys did their best to assure Sandy that he and John would be alone this time. They also tried to get him to bring $100 for a room at the Comfort Inn. When Sandy said i dont have money to blow ya know, they suggested Plum Beach. Sandy had never heard of it, but he agreed to meet John back at Coyle Street and they’d go to the beach together. Meanwhile, Anthony, Gary, and Kaze would start walking up the beach to meet them.

It took just 24 hours for police to trace the AOL screen name Fisheyefox to John Fox, then the IP address they were using to Anthony’s. At about 1 a.m. on October 10, homicide detectives rang Anthony’s doorbell and showed him a photo of Fox. Anthony lied and said he hadn’t seen him in a few weeks. He didn’t know that at the same time, detectives were en route to the Bronx to pick up John from his college dorm. Fox confessed within hours, but Anthony was released; there was insufficient evidence to arrest him.

Joan says her son was overwhelmed with horror, on the verge of a full meltdown. He’d admitted to her he was with the others at the start of the night, but insisted he wasn’t around when things got violent. The only thing Joan could think to do, she says, was get him back into a clinic. Police had a warrant ready on the 19th, but doctors at a Beth Israel hospital facility asked them to hold off, explaining that he was a suicide risk. On October 25, Anthony was finally removed from the clinic and arrested.

Anthony had been in Rikers for a about week when Anthony’s mother and sister were on the computer, and an IM popped up for him. She remember the language as “quite provocative.” Visiting him at Rikers, she asked about it. “Anthony, what were you doing in a gay chat room?”

Sitting there in the visitors’ room, Anthony looked pained. “Because I did it before, Ma!”

He could never bring himself to say more, and his mother didn’t get what he was hinting at. “I thought it was out of character,” Joan says now, “because Anthony had a girlfriend, too, when he was at school.”

But she kept asking about it, until Anthony threw up his hands: “Ma. Look at my buddy list.”

“And when we looked at his buddy list, I saw, like, 300 names,” Joan says. “I nearly fell off my chair.” They were all men.


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