Police seek assailant of openly gay Filipino journalist

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau.

NEW YORK – The New York Police Department released an artist’s sketch on Monday of the suspect in the brutal assault of openly gay Filipino journalist Randy Gener in Midtown Manhattan last week.

DNA Info New York reports that a Hispanic man believed to be in his 20s was seen fleeing in a gray 4-door Nissan with Mississippi plate KAT397 on the night of the attack.

According to police, the suspect is described as 6 feet tall, weighing 160 pounds and with short black hair. Authorities say the suspect was last seen wearing black jeans and a black jacket.

Meantime, amid tears and prayers in a candle light vigil in Midtown, New York Sunday night, dozens of friends, families and even strangers gathered to show their support for Gener.

Gener is an award-winning editor, writer, critic, journalist and conceptual artist in New York City.

His credits include The New York Times, NPR, New York Magazine, The Star Ledger, Time Out New York and the New York Daily News.

He was also a recipient of the 2009 George Jean Nathan Award – The Pulitzer Prize equivalent in theater writing and dramatic criticism.

Chris Rawson, a member of American Theater Critics Association said, “We are shocked, astonished, disbelieving that such a thing could happen to somebody at this day and age.”

Brian Johnson, a concerned New Yorker said, “Twenty years ago I did a show and he gave me a really great review and I’ve never forgotten his name. So I wanted to be here and be part of this vigil.”

“When you attack one of us, you attack all of us,” Gener’s friend and colleague Victor Maog said. “No one’s going to put us down.”

Gener, 46, was found lying on the ground, beaten unconscious, and left for dead just a block away from home.

A passerby who found him around 3 a.m. called 911. He was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital and had to undergo brain surgery for severe head trauma.

Steve Nisbet, Gener’s husband of two years, was the first one notified after emergency medical personnel found his address in his wallet.

Nisbet said, “He’s still acute, he’s in and out of consciousness, but he knows we’re there. Some of his long term memory seems to be pretty intact. Short term memory is kaput.”

Nisbet says with the help of family, friends and even strangers, they have raised more than $35,000 for Gener’s medical expenses.

He added that Gener is scheduled for another surgery.

“They removed the right side of his skull, in order to prevent the brain from swelling up,” Nisbet said. “Then they built a polymer plug that perfectly fits and the bone grows within, so that’s probably six weeks away depending on the swelling.”

Gener’s case has been transferred to NYPD’s hate crime unit.

“The fact that no one took his wallet gives us suspicion that it was either a random act of violence or hate bias,” Gener’s friend Dr. Kevin Nadal said.

Younger sister Jessica Blair Driesler flew all the way from San Francisco, Calif. to care for Gener.

“Whatever type of crime, it’s important for our community to be safe and that’s part of what we would like to walk away from here. Aside from figuring out what happened, but also to maintain some sort of safety in this area,” Driesler said.

Another friend Liz Casasola said, “We want justice for Randy and we want him to get better.”

Witnesses or anyone with information leading to the identity of Gener’s attacker are asked to come forward and call New York Police’s Crime Stopper Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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