A wave of robberies that took place after the victims were drugged has left at least seven clubgoers dead in New York City, The Guardian reported. There have been at least 43 known druggings — mostly taking place at LGBTQ-themed nightclubs — since September 2021, and police are saying the deaths are not isolated incidents.
So far, police have arrested four suspects who conspired to “approach intoxicated individuals upon exiting a bar or nightclub, engage them in conversation, and offer and administer dangerous and illicit substances to them for the purpose of causing their incapacitation,” according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Last month, police found that the death of a rising New York fashion designer, Katie Gallagher in July was due to her being robbed while drugged. No suspects have been arrested in her case.
Linda Clary, whose deceased 33-year-old son John Umberger was one of the victims, says she’s worried more robberies are going unnoticed.
“I’m convinced that there are significantly more cases because I think out of embarrassment, shame or fear, victims have not come forward,” she told The Guardian.
NYPD chief of detectives, James Essig, says he doesn’t think LGBTQ people are being solely targeted, but many in the community say they feel particularly vulnerable, especially since hate crimes are on the rise.
“The truth is, I do let my guard down when I come out to these places, because you’re yearning for connection. And I think for homosexuals especially, we want to co-mingle, want to let others into our friend groups,” said Miguel Tavares, who’s frequented clubs in New York City for over a decade.