An Atlanta Police report released today states that witnesses told officers a fight broke out among five or six men on Jan. 1 “over a discussion regarding sexuality” that allegedly led to several men being stabbed.
Arrested in the incident that occurred at a New Year’s Eve party was Luke O’Donovan, 19. He was also stabbed several times during the fight and treated at Atlanta Medical Center before he was transported to Fulton County Jail, according to the report.
“All witnesses stated they observed a group of five to six males fighting in the back yard of 239 Gibson St. SE over a discussion regarding sexuality. The fight quickly escalated when the suspect, Mr. Luke O’Donovan pulled out a knife. Witnesses said that the victims were attempting to stop Mr. O’Donovan when they were stabbed,” the APD report states.
A witness, who would only identify himself as Richard, told GA Voice that a man came up to Luke at the party and called him a “faggot.”
The alleged weapon, a stainless steel switchblade with a 3-inch blade and a wooden handle, was later recovered at the intersection of Wylie Street SE and Chester Avenue SE, about a half-mile from 239 Gibson Ave. A person passing by found it next to a stop sign and after seeing news reports of the stabbings reported it to police. Police said the knife had blood and flesh on it.
The APD first responded to a call of a person being stabbed at 973 Northern Ave. where one victim was found with a stab wound in his back left thigh and bleeding heavily. The victim was transported to Grady Medical Center.
Police then reported seeing blood on the street surrounding 239 Gibson St. and secured the area and ordered witnesses to stand outside 973 Northern Ave., according to the report.
An officer was then called to Freedom Parkway and North Avenue where two other stabbing victims were located. Three others were located at Atlanta Medical Center’s emergency room with stab wounds.
One person was stabbed in the abdomen and was taken to surgery. Another victim had a wound to his wrist and was released.
Luke O’Donovan sustained multiple stab wounds to his upper back, according to the report.
One of the victims at Atlanta Medical Center said he was stabbed by O’Donovan. Police questioned partiers at 239 Gibson St. and the Freedom Parkway and North Avenue locations and were told the suspect’s name was Luke. Based on this information, Luke O’Donovan was arrested at Atlanta Medical Center. O’Donovan refused to provide any information other than his name and date of birth, the report states.
According to Richard, who was at the party and declined to give his last name, things got started at a bonfire in the backyard when another man came up to O’Donovan and called him “faggot.”
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.”
Supporters of O’Donovan state on the Facebook page, named “In Love and Solidarity – Support Luke O’Donovan” that O’Donovan was defending himself against a “queer bashing.”
Atlanta Police spokesperson Carlos Campos told the GA Voice Jan. 2 that the department’s LGBT liaisons have been notified of this case and that police are investigating whether or not homophobic slurs led to the fight.
“We have received information that the incident was possibly preceded by a gay slur directed towards the arrestee,” Campos said.
“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. Zone 6 investigators are in the preliminary stages of investigation, and our LGBT liaisons have also been alerted to the incident. Anyone with information that might be helpful is encouraged to call Zone 6 investigators at (404) 373-5331/5332.”