A 35-year-old New York man died this week after a fight outside a housing complex, and authorities are probing his death as a possible hate crime.
Michael Jones, who was known to friends and family as Chris, was reportedly involved in a fight on Tuesday night in Mount Vernon, New York, when he fell or was pushed to the ground, hitting his head on the curb. Jones later died at a local hospital.
Local media outlets that spoke to sources at the scene after the attack are reporting that Jones may have been targeted because of his sexual orientation.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas said in a statement: “Those that seek to attack people to instill fear in communities due to race, religion, or sexual orientation are cowards and will face justice. Mount Vernon is a city of inclusion and despicable acts of intimidation will not be tolerated."
Thomas has instructed Mount Vernon police to work with the FBI and the New York State Police Hate Crime Task Force to investigate Jones’ death.
Police are yet to confirm that Jones’ death was the result of an attack motivated by discrimination. "Detectives are investigating and we're looking at all avenues based on any statements that our detectives are receiving,” Acting Police Commissioner Shawn Harris said at a press conference on Thursday.
Harris said during the press conference that sources told police that Jones was involved in a different altercation last week. As of Friday morning, police said that no suspects have been taken into custody in connection with Jones’ death.