News & Opinion
A 17-year-old suspect is currently at large and being sought by NYPD for the stabbing of O'Shae Sibley. NYPD tells Gaye Magazine that the case is being investigated as a "possible biased incident".
Professional dancer O’Shae Sibley was stabbed at Mobil gas station at 1921 Coney Island Avenue in Midwood, Brooklyn last Saturday night. According to witnesses, Sibley and his friends were returning from a beach celebration and stopped for gas while on their way home. The friends were dancing to a song from Beyonce's "Renaissance" when they were approached by a group of men and told to stop dancing. An argument soon followed and a man stabbed Sibley in the upper abdomen.
One of Sibley's best friends, Otis Pena, pressed on his wound in an attempt to stop the bleeding, however, was unsuccessful. Sibley was transported to Maimonides Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Witnesses on the scene say that before the assault, Sibley and his friends were verbally abused with homophobic slurs by the group of men. This incident is currently being investigated by NYPD as a hate crime.
A 17-year-old suspect is said to have been identified from surveillance footage and is currently on the run. Law enforcement on the scene said the suspect, who claimed he identified as Muslim during the altercation, was offended by the dancing of Sibley and the outfit he was dressed in.
"He had a problem with them dancing, he wanted them to stop dancing, he started arguing with them. And then after a few fights and back and forth arguing, he pulled out a knife and stabbed him," witness Sayeda Haider said.
Otis Pena has since taken to his Facebook to mourn the loss of his best friend. He recounted his final moments with Sibley in a 14-minute Facebook Live broadcast.
NBC 4 New York spoke to a neighbor who knew Sibley on Monday morning. The neighbor, who is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community, said he was concerned about Sibley's safety.
"I texted him that morning to tell him I wanted to talk to him, to tell him to tell his friends to be careful, you know, because you have to be careful how you present yourself," Beckenbaur Hamilton said. "They don’t live in the neighborhood we live in, it’s a very homophobic neighborhood and they were out here dancing."
Sibley was a passionate LGBTQ+ advocate, he joined an all-queer dance collective organized by 31-year-old choreographer/director, Kemar Jewel for a 2020 project called ‘Vogue 4 #BlackLivesMatter’.
Jewel met Sibley 13 years ago at the Attic Youth Center, where gay teenagers could go for after-school programs and activities. Though only a few years apart, Sibley looked at Jewel as an uncle.
“O’Shae was so well versed. He was great at tap, ballet, hip-hop,” Jewel said. “He was an incredible visual learner. I’ve seen him watch someone do something twice and then just do it.”
Jewel, who is in London working on a show, said he was sleeping on Sunday morning when Otis Pena called to tell him what had happened.
Sibley had recently moved to New York three years prior, from Philadelphia, to pursue his dream of becoming a professional dancer. Sibley is remembered by his loved ones as an accomplished dancer, choreographer and activist.
“O’Shae has always been a peacemaker,” one of his aunts told The New York Times. “All he wanted to do was dance.”
As LGBTQ+ hate crimes continue to plague our community, LGBTQ+ people are faced with the battle between living in their truth or suppressing who they are in order to feel safe and protected. O'Shae Sibley proudly lived in his truth and left this world defending himself and his beliefs. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of O'Shae Sibley at this time.