By: Kelly Morris/A Collaboration from The Seattle Lesbian—
After being hospitalized from an attack last weekend in a hotel, a gay veteran has passed away at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Stephen Patrick White had suffered burns over 52 percent of his body after he was set on fire.
Police are holding suspect Garry Joseph Gupton who met White at a gay bar.
A hotel employee called 911 after hearing a man screaming as a fire alarm was activated around 4:30 a.m.
He was found naked, robbed, beaten, and burned.
Gupton was originally arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill. He is now being charged with first-degree murder.
“We’re not sure what caused Mr. Gupton to act so violently,” Greensboro police spokeswoman Susan Danielson said. “This is not a crime motivated by hate. We believe this was a consensual encounter between the two of them, and at some point Mr. Gupton began acting incredibly irrational.”
A few friends of the victim said the two met at the gay bar Chemistry Nightclub and “everything seemed normal.”
Court documents say Gupton, who is a crew member in the city of Greensboro’s Water Resources Department, beat White with a phone desk, large television, other furniture and a deadly weapon.
The Associated Press reported:
Alex Teal, White’s longtime partner, had previously told AP White had most of both arms amputated after he was severely burned in a hotel room that caught fire during the November 9 attack.
He said White, who had been listed in critical condition, had made some small improvements earlier in the week.
“Yesterday, he had a good day…I gave him applesauce. He drank water, and he was doing good. His blood pressure was fine. Everything was fine Friday, everything was fine,” Teal told AP by phone late Saturday.
But Teal said White’s health deteriorated early Saturday, when he had to be put on a ventilator, and that White died about 3 p.m.
Drew Wofford, owner of Chemistry, hosted a benefit for White after the incident and proceeds from the door, bar and entertainer tips, as well as staff pay were going to be donated to help White’s recovery. Now it will be donated for the family.
“Stephen White’s death is a tragic loss for the Greensboro community and North Carolina,” director of Equality North Carolina Chris Sgro said. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with Stephen’s family. Equality NC promises to follow this investigation closely to ensure that it is thorough and justice is served.”