US: North Carolina man ‘in critical condition’ after his gay hook-up set him on fire

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A man is in critical condition with severe burns in North Carolina – after he was set on fire by a man he met in a gay bar.

46-year-old gay veteran Stephen Patrick White, who served in Iraq, reportedly met 26-year-old Garry Joseph Gupton in the gay Chemistry Nightclub on November 9.

The pair hit it off and left to go to a nearby hotel – but police say Mr White was then assaulted by Gupton, who robbed him, beat him and set him on fire.

Emergency services were alerted when the fire alarm in the building went off, and screams were reported coming from the room.

Mr White was found naked, with burns over 52 percent of his body, and was rushed to hospital to recieve life-saving treatment.

Gupton was arrested and is being detained by police – but the incident is not being treated as a hate crime.

Greensboro police spokesperson Susan Danielsen said: “He (Gupton) never verbalized to us that he intended to kill somebody.

“There’s absolutely no evidence to indicate that this is a hate crime.”

Chris Sgro of Equality North Carolina told qnotes: “We do not yet know the full details of this crime, but anytime a person is harmed, especially in such violent fashion, it is a tragedy regardless of circumstances.

“Greensboro is the city that I call home with my husband.

“Crimes like these are terrible regardless of motivation in the Gate City or anywhere else. We are paying close, personal attention to this matter and know the City of Greensboro, Mayor Nancy Vaughan, and the Greensboro Police Department are fully and competently looking into this terrible crime.”

Towleroad notes that Gupton’s Facebook page claims he is interested in only women.

Drew Wofford – the owner of the nightclub, who has organised a benefit to pay for Mr White’s care – said: “This brutal attack has left Steven hospitalized and fighting for his life. Now it’s our turn to help.

“Steven has a long road ahead of him but he is a fighter and he is definitely not alone. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we are all fighting for him.

“Please use caution when leaving our bar or any bar with someone you don’t know. I never would have dreamed something like this would happen here in Greensboro … but let’s make sure it never happens again.”