Investigators believe that drug poisoning deaths occurred due to criminal gangs’ plans to render patrons of pubs and nightclubs in New York City helpless so they could be robbed.
Police and prosecutors said Thursday that the killings—at least five in total—go back months and appear to be the work of various groups who operated independently but with similar methods.
Men sneakily give partygoers high doses of narcotics to make them unconscious, then steal their phones and wallets, sometimes utilizing the information to deplete the victims’ accounts.
In March, chef Norbu Sherpa, 29, was discovered dead after leaving a bar where he had been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
He was found on the sidewalk.
Julio Ramirez, a 25-year-old social worker, passed away in a taxi in April after leaving a bar in Manhattan with some males.
Later, his family learned that some of his savings had been taken.
John Umberger, a 33-year-old political consultant from Washington, D.C., was discovered dead in his home in May after what seemed to be a heroin overdose.
He was captured on surveillance footage being supported by a group of men as he left a well-known club.
In addition, money was removed from his bank account.
Other guys have spoken up, telling tales of being drugged by strangers and discovering that their money is already gone.
The Manhattan district attorney stated on Thursday that one suspect, Kenwood Allen of the Bronx, had been charged with murder concerning the deaths of Ardijan Berisha, 26, and Sherpa. Many of the crimes are still unsolved.
In July, after drinking at a pub on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Berisha of South Salem, New York, and a friend collapsed on the pavement.
Prosecutors claim that Allen poisoned his victims with fentanyl before robbing them.
He is charged in three more incidents in which the victims lived.
At a news conference on Thursday, Lt. Det. Dave Leonardi of the New York Police Department claimed that some of the victims had received a combination of cocaine, fentanyl, and lidocaine, with the latter drug being the one that rendered them unconscious.
Ramirez and Umberger’s killings raised suspicions that gay men were being persecuted.
Both passed away after leaving LGBTQ bars in Manhattan. Some victims and their family members have expressed dissatisfaction about the lack of haste with which authorities handled the crimes.
According to James Essig, chief of detectives for the NYPD, robberies have happened outside of the LGBT community.
We don’t believe they specifically target gay members, he added. “This is simply motivated by financial gain.”
Although there has been a noticeable anti-LGBTQ climate across the nation, there is still concern about potential targeting, according to Beverly Tillary, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, a group that supports LGBTQ populations.
She stated that there was a feeling of unease and uncertainty regarding the potential course of further attacks against our community.