The 911 call was made at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, November 9. An employee at the Battleground Inn in Greensboro, N.C. reported an erratic man screaming on the premises.
“Some guy over here, he just flipped out,” the employee said. “He’s running around.”
Moments later, the hotel’s fire alarm sounded.
The man was 26-year-old Garry Joseph Gupton, who was described by the employee as shirtless and shouting obscenities. He then reportedly knocked over a computer before disappearing out the hotel’s front doors.
Authorities arrived at the scene minutes later to find 46-year-old Stephen Patrick White naked, robbed, beaten with a desk phone and large television, and set ablaze in room 417. He was rushed to the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he was treated for smoke inhalation, burns, and other injuries.
According to police, White met Gupton at the Chemistry Nightclub, a local bar in Greensboro, on Saturday, November 8. Hours later, the two men checked into a room at The Battleground Inn. It’s unclear what happened next or what motivated Gupton to assault White.
“I am just in awe of the magnitude of the hate that is involved and I truly do not believe [Gupton] has a soul,” Riki Dubin, a friend of White, told WFMY News. “I just couldn’t ever imagine any human treating another human like that.”
Last Thursday, the Greensboro Police Department announced it was not considering the assault a hate crime.
“There’s no evidence the victim was targeted based on his sexual orientation,” said assistant district attorney Howard Neumann.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan issued a statement that read, in part:
The Greensboro Police Department is working diligently to investigate this crime and while reports indicate this is not a LGBT hate-related crime, any violent crime is tragic and unacceptable. I understand the concerns of the residents of Greensboro, including the LGBT community. Greensboro prides itself on being an inclusive community that shows respect, compassion and understanding to everyone and Greensboro City Council is firmly committed to ensuring the city is safe and welcoming for residents and visitors alike.
White did not have health insurance, so his friends organized a fundraiser for him on Saturday, November 15 at a local gay bar in Greensboro. They raised over $10,000.
Later that same day, however, White died following complications from his injuries.
As a result, Gupton is now facing first-degree murder charges. During his hearing this week, which reportedly lasted less than 5 minutes, he stared blankly and gave short, one-word answers when asked by a judge whether he understood the charges. He remains in jail without bail. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
White was a U.S. Army veteran. According to his family members, he was first stationed in Korea from the late 1980s until the early 1990s. Upon returning home, he obtained a degree in Criminal Justice from Guilford College. In 2005, he worked for Blackwater for six months in Iraq. While there, he was injured when he was hit by a mortar, which resulted in the loss of part of his leg.
White’s family released the following statement to the community:
“The family of Stephen White wishes to express sincere appreciation for all the prayers, love, and support. We are grateful for all the first responders and medical personnel who came to his aid. We are thankful for all those who organized and participated in the fundraisers on Stephen’s behalf. Please continue to keep our family in your prayers during this difficult time.”
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Graham Gremore is a columnist and contributor for Queerty and Life of the Law. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
I live in one of Greensboro’s neighboring “bedroom communities” and this crime really has shocked everyone. Prayers to the family.
Local media coverage seems to be implying that something happened between the two of them in the motel room that caused a heated argument and then it quickly escalated. Possibly the victim changed his mind and wanted to leave, or the assailant overreacted to the request for a certain sex act, or whatever. In other words, not a straight guy pretending to be gay in order to commit a hate crime, but an unbalanced assailant (or who was high on something) who lost control and freaked out.
Personally, I think it probably was a hate crime. Robbing someone or assaulting someone is all-to-common and doesn’t typically involve a “hate motive” but setting him on fire?!?!?!?! That, to me anyway, implies premeditation and specific targeting.
Trick/John gone terribly wrong? BTW, Queery is really late on this one.
Hate crimes against gays is why I left SC 30 years ago. NC is no better. If you’re gay, you need to move to a better state and a better life.
It WAS obviously a hate crime- unless he used his bic lighter to do it- who checks into a hotel/motel room with flammable liquid at the ready? Typical of Bible Belt thinking. Looks like the authorities will say or (not do) anything as long as they don’t have to admit there are Gays in their town!
You burn someone alive and its NOT a hate crime in North Carolina? No one will need to remind me never to visit, live, or even have a layover on a plane in this state. Republicans have cheated people out of a vote and now are fomenting such evil that you burn someone alive.
For the morbidly curious, I’ve attached a link to the assailant’s facebook page. In all honesty, it appears stereotypically straight. I guess that’s not all that unusual in the south: emphasis on cars/sports. But, oddly, no cheesecake pics or any outward expression of a passion for women.
If he is as straight as his FB implies, it adds fuel to the hate crime theory.
@Liam: @Mark Jenkins: @Larry:
Greensboro has a fairly large and very out-in-the-open gay community, which is why this was so shocking for those of us who live here. It’s not Asheville or Chapel Hill, but people don’t call it Gayboro for nothing. Sure, we have haters here (just as they do in NYC and Philly) but this attack really was out of character for this city.
It’s heartbreaking that Mr. White never got to live a full life and the pain his family is experiencing is beyond belief. Let this be a wake up call to all of you who go to someone’s house who you don’t know or invite a stranger to your house, or as in this case, checking into a motel.
This creep deserves the death penalty if allowed in that state, and if not, he should be behind bars for the rest of his life.
@Larry: What on earth do Republicans have to do with this?!! If you’re gonna get absurdly “political” one could argue that the Democrats and Eric Holder’s Department of Injustice encourage law-breaking. Pit people against people, race against race, one gender against the other, and on and on.
@Larry: @manjoguy: Yeah, I’m thinking Thom Tillis had little to nothing to do with this one.
I live in this area and To my knowledge the local TV news did not report this!! Not surprising! at all..
Gay men need to learn as women have for a long time time…MEN ARE DANGEROUS!!!
@manjoguy: And how many GOP galas have you and GoProud been invited to, lately???
@Trippy: Thanks for the link, Trippy. I find it ironic that one of his posts is the “new Aaron Hernandez jerseys” which are prison stripes and him finding it amusing, while another post asks his friends to give him volunteer ideas as he wanted to contribute to the community. His friends and family must be floored if this was the persona he exhibited.
Well, he was beaten and burned alive but, at least he had the freedom to marry. I mean, there’s that.
“Same-sex marriage in North Carolina has been legal since October 10, 2014, when a U.S. District Court judge ruled in General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper that the state’s denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional.”
@NoCagada: Dodging the point rather than debating it, F-.
@TrueWords: True, true. There’s a reason women have a small book’s worth of warnings about what to do and not to do lest some guy turn out to be a psycho.
May Mr. White RIP.
@MarionPaige: That’s right, he was burned alive because he had the right to marry. If we don’t want to be burned alive we must not be allowed the right to marry.
Do you ever take time to read the shit you post?
healthcare vs the freedom to marry and the freedom to marry wins
@Trippy: “For the morbidly curious, I’ve attached a link to the assailant’s facebook page.”
It’s really disturbing to see that picture posted to his page of the car shooting flames out, all things considered. It’s interesting to see that he made a post talking about how they should shut down congress’ pay + posted about income inequality. That sounds like a somewhat liberal political stance. But, he also likes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ron Paul, NPR, the NRA, + Gary Johnson. Nothing particularly LGBT/gay relavent, though.
Oh, and he also likes “Buddha Sayings”.
I have a sinking feeling this had more to do with drugs than sex. This guy flipped out and his actions all point to “impaired” judgement.
@Matt: Complete agreement from me. This heartless freak is a danger to the general public.
I am a worry wart when it comes to you guys that use these online hookup apps and meet randoms in a bar. I mean yes these stories are isolated given the thousands of hookups that take place weekly, but it still worries me. A guy I consider my little brother just moved to Boston. He has no family there and has been on a Grindr kick. I always tell him to write down the address and grindr profile name and leave it on his nightstand so that if it is the killer the cops will at least have a major clue. Definitely a risk I hope men are thinking about and taking precautions for before they meet these guys. I always hosted when I did the online hookup thing for that reason. I needed to be in familiar surroundings and knew where my weapons and panic button were just in case some mess went down.
do you need to check into a motel to do drugs? Seems to me that checking into a motor inn with another man (older than you) is as gay as it gets in a southern town. From what I reads, the invitation to do drugs is the way to pick-up guys who don’t identify as gay.
This has hints of Renato Seabra flipping out in a NYC hotel and smashing a computer monitor (and his foot) into the head of the older guy he was with. Also,
It was said somewhere that the younger guy worked for the city up to this incident, i.e., he isn’t some homeless crazy roaming the streets.
Here’s the most recent follow-up story from this morning’s paper.
What I don’t understand is why this Queerty article covering the story doesn’t mention Alex Teal, White’s longtime partner who stayed by White’s bedside while he was in the hospital and was likely devastated when he died.
@Trippy: well that article you link to answers a question that was on many people’s minds when reading earlier articles that did mention White’s partner. They wondered why he was at a hotel cruising when he had a life partner. People wondered if White was cheating, if they had an open relationship, etc.
“Teal said although he and White were on a “break” from their relationship, they still lived together.”
@DarkZephyr: bar* not hotel.
@MarionPaige: The lol of it is the monomaniacal energy you expend campaigning against same sex marriage shows you don’t give a shiny shit about health coverage for poor gay people, or gay employment rights, or any other issue either, you futile loon.
To all that have commented prior to mine:
I live in Greensboro which is the city in which this happened. I have met Stephen. He was a really nice guy. I have been to the bars to which he reportedly frequented. Those bars are no different than any other bar in any other in the city. Leaving and going to a hotel for whatever reason is irrelevant. What matters is that one human killed another by a violent and tortuous beating.
I have a son who is 20. Believe you, me…if he was the victim of such a crime, I wouldn’t care if the assailant was black, white, green, blue, gay, straight, questioning, bisexual or buying someone to be sexual, this crime would not be accusable – nor is this one!
I propose, instead of focusing our energy on hate for the assailant, let’s focus our energy on ensuring this doesn’t happen again. I don’t know how to do that, or what it looks like, but I do know that learning from our past will make our future better.
Comments are closed.