Friends of suspect: Gay slur provoked stabbings
Supporters continue to rally around Luke O’Donovan, the 19-year-old Atlanta man charged with stabbing five people after being called an anti-gay slur and attacked during a New Year’s Eve party on Monday.
Friends and family have spoken out in support of O’Donovan since his arrest early Tuesday and a day later when a Fulton County judge denied bond for him. He’s charged with five counts of aggravated assault. They’ve since launched a Facebook page, website and fundraising campaign for O’Donovan’s legal fees that’s collected nearly $1,200.
But the picture of what exactly happened during the party in Atlanta’s Reynoldstown neighborhood that led to five people being stabbed and O’Donovan also suffering injuries isn’t yet clear. O’Donovan’s mother says her son was defending himself, witnesses say a fight broke out after a group of people called O’Donovan a “faggot” for dancing with men at the party, and others claim he overreacted when the men jokingly aimed the homophobic slur at him.
An incident report released Thursday by Atlanta police says the fight between six men started “over a discussion regarding sexuality” about 3:40 a.m. on Tuesday.
“The fight quickly escalated when the suspect, Mr. Luke O’Donovan pulled out a knife,” according to the incident report. “Witnesses stated that the victims were attempting to stop Mr. O’Donovan when they were also stabbed.”
Police allege that O’Donovan used a knife with a three-inch blade that folded into the handle, which was found several hours later with blood and human tissue on it a few blocks from the fight on Gibson Street. Some of the men who were stabbed told police that O’Donovan was the aggressor and he was arrested after being treated for his injuries at Atlanta Medical Center, according to the incident report.
On Wednesday, an Atlanta police spokesperson said the cause of the fight is under investigation. The agency’s LGBT liaisons were notified of the incident.
“We have received information that the incident was possibly preceded by a gay slur directed towards the arrestee,” APD’s Carlos Campos says. “We are not sure if the information is credible, but are investigating the incident and will pursue this and any other leads. It should be noted, however, that officers arrested a man identified as stabbing five people. It will be up to the judicial system to determine if there were any mitigating factors prior to the stabbings.”
Supporters of O’Donovan have countered reports that he attacked the men. They launched a Facebook page, In Love and Solidarity – Support Luke O’Donovan, that claims he’s the victim of “queer bashing.”
It has been reported in the press that Luke O’Donovan, 19, went on a “stabbing rampage” at a New Year’s Eve party in Reynoldstown, a neighborhood in Atlanta, GA. This is not accurate. The events that occurred were the result of Luke O’Donovan desperately defending himself against a clear act of queer-bashing that included Luke being stabbed in the back.
A website launched on Thursday, Let Luke Go, seeks to rally support for O’Donovan, raise cash and counter claims that he attacked the other men.
Our purpose is to support Luke materially and emotionally throughout this trial and for however long he needs us immediately following the trial. Our first priority is Luke’s release from jail. Afterword, we believe that Luke should be acquitted of all charges against him. We are fighting toward this end through contact with lawyers and, hopefully, popular mobilizations with others who desire to support Luke however they can. We are also doing our best to meet Luke’s emotional needs in light of this because we have known the torment of incarceration and the effect it can have on your spiritual and mental well-being.
While it may come to pass that Luke’s attackers receive charges for what they have done, that is not the focus of this support group. Our focus is Luke. We understand that the judicial system has legs all of its own and will act how it sees fit. Our intention, however, is to focus our energy on the person we all love and supporting them to the fullest.
O’Donovan told the guy not to use that language, Richard said.
“Luke said don’t do that ... and it seemed like an understanding was reached,” Richard said. “After that, things got a little bit better. He never got kicked out of the party. Everyone was having a good time. He [Luke] was being very jolly.”
When the party started winding down, Richard said he saw the group of people attacking O’Donovan and chasing him down a hill.
“[Luke] just tried to leave,” Richard said. “They were chasing him down the hill. It was like they were trying to kill him. It seemed like it was planned and calculated.”
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