Friends of Louis Rispoli, who died Thursday night after being taken off life support, describe him as funny and strong as well as an amazing chef.
These same friends held back tears at a press conference on Thursday afternoon as they detailed the beating that took the older gay man’s life and asked anyone with any information about the incident to step forward. There is a $22,000 reward being offered for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
“Lou is tragically dying at Elmhurst Hospital," Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), Rispoli’s City Council representative and friend said Thursday afternoon. “He will not survive this and it will be a homicide.”
Rispoli, 62, went out for a walk a little before midnight on 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 Rispoli would talk with shop owners and try to walk off the excess energy he had.
However on Friday’s walk Rispoli was assaulted by two men, while a tall suspect kept watch at their 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. He 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 an 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 that day.
Rispoli’s husband’s 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 job, husband’s name and home address were not released in an effort to retain privacy.
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.