Louis Rispoli, a 62-year-old gay man, died last Thursday night after being attacked and brutally beaten by two men five days earlier.
The New York City Police Department, the Mayor’s Office and Crime Stoppers are offering a $22,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals responsible for the attack, according to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
Earlier on Thursday, friends, who described Rispoli as funny and strong and an amazing cook — among them Van Bramer, who knew the music teacher personally — held back tears at a press conference as they detailed the beating that eventually took his life. They also asked anyone with any information about the incident to step forward. No additional information about any suspects had been released by press time.
“[Lou] will not survive this and it will be a homicide,” said Van Bramer, hours before Rispoli’s death. The victim was taken off life support later on Oct. 25.
Rispoli, 62, went out for a walk a little before midnight on Friday, Oct. 19. He often took walks around the Sunnyside neighborhood he called home for 30 years, his friend, Mike Horn, said. Rispoli was a bit of an insomniac, he added, saying he would talk with shop owners and try to walk off the excess energy he had.
However on this walk Rispoli was assaulted by two men around 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, while a tall suspect kept watch at the car, Van Bramer said.
A witness, who called the police after the incident, said two men were walking with Rispoli toward 41st Street when they hit him over the head with a blunt object outside a large apartment complex at 41-00 43rd Ave. in Sunnyside. Rispoli might have been inside the car with his attackers prior to the beating, but that is not confirmed, Van Bramer said.
The witness did not get a good look at any of the attackers’ faces, but believes they were in their 20s. He also could not confirm a description of the getaway vehicle, although it is thought to be a two-door white car or SUV.
Van Bramer met the victim in 2009 at a dinner party when Rispoli approached him and said, “I’m thrilled a gay man is running for office.” Following the event, Rispoli volunteered with the now-City Councilman’s campaign.
“Lou was a very proud gay man and someone who worked for equality,” Van Bramer said.
In June 2011, on the first day same-sex New York couples were allowed to marry, Van Bramer visited the courthouse to congratulate newlyweds. Rispoli was there with his longtime partner wearing a homemade T-shirt reading “31 years together.” The couple waited until their anniversary in August to wed, but wanted to apply for their marriage license that day.
Rispoli’s husband did not attend the press conference. A statement read at the meeting asked “the media to respect the privacy of Lou’s husband and family members during this time of sorrow.” Rispoli’s exact job, husband’s name and home address were not released in an effort to retain privacy — although they since have been reported on other media sites.
It is unknown if the act was a hate crime.
Police are reviewing surveillance tapes from the area, but images of the suspects have not been retrieved. The apartment complex where the attack took place does not have cameras.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit tips by logging onto nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting 274637 (CRIMES), then entering TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.