Originally published: Nov. 12, 2014, 10:56 a.m.
Updated: Nov. 19, 2014, 12:49 p.m.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A gay veteran passed away Saturday from injuries he sustained in a brutal attack last weekend. A suspect in the crime is being held by police after an aggravated assault in the early morning hours of Nov. 9 in a downtown hotel. Police say the attack on the victim, whom the suspect met at a local gay bar, is not being considered a hate crime.

The victim, Stephen White, is in critical care at a Winston-Salem hospital.
The victim, Stephen White, passed away on Nov. 15.

The victim, gay veteran Stephen Patrick White, 46, of Greensboro, had been in critical condition at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. He had reportedly suffered burns over 52 percent of his body after the suspect, Garry Joseph Gupton, 26, of Greensboro, attacked White and set him on fire.

Greensboro police say an employee at the Battleground Inn at 1517 Westover Terrace called 911 after hearing a man screaming at the hotel at the same time a fire alarm was activated.

Police and firefighters responded to the hotel at about 4:30 a.m.

White was apparently found naked, robbed and beaten, in addition to his life-threatening injuries from the fire. A friend says White, who served in Iraq and was injured there, had a hand and part of his arm amputated after injuries sustained in the weekend attack.

White passed away on Saturday, according to information published by two local bars which had planned fundraisers for White’s medical expenses.

Gupton was arrested on the scene last weekend. He had been charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill, but authorities have now charged him with first-degree murder. He is being held without bond.

Court documents reveal Gupton, who is a crew member in the city of Greensboro’s Water Resources Department, beat White with a desk phone, large television, other items of furniture and a deadly weapon, according to WFMY.

Sarah Ovaska at N.C. Policy Watch reported Thursday that Greensboro police told her the attack was not being investigated as a hate crime.

“He (Gupton) never verbalized to us that he intended to kill somebody,” said Susan Danielsen, a Greensboro police spokeswoman, according to N.C. Policy Watch. “There’s absolutely no evidence to indicate that this is a hate crime.”

She added: “We’re not sure what caused Mr. Gupton to act so violently. This is not a crime motivated by hate.”

Garry Joseph Gupton, 26, of Greensboro, has been charged in connection with the attack.
Garry Joseph Gupton, 26, of Greensboro, has been charged in connection with the attack.

Danielson told provided some smaller additional details to the Associated Press.

“We believe this was a consensual encounter between the two of them, and at some point Mr. Gupton began acting incredibly irrational,” Danielsen told the wire service.

Sources close to the victim tell qnotes the two met at Chemistry Nightclub, a gay bar in the city at 2901 Spring Garden St., and when they left “everything seemed normal” and friendly.

Drew Wofford, the owner of Chemistry Nighclub has organized a benefit for White this Saturday, Nov. 15. All proceeds from the door, bar and entertainer tips and drag show and staff pay were being donated to help in White’s recovery, but will now be donated to his family. Another local bar, Q Lounge, is also hosting a fundraiser on Saturday. Posters for both events are posted below. Donations can also be made online, where more than $9,700 had already been raised as of Sunday morning.

Advocates with the statewide LGBT advocacy group had been monitoring the crime. In a statement, Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina, called the attack “brutal” and said community members should pay “diligent attention to the investigation.”

On Saturday, they responded to White’s death.

“Stephen White’s death is a tragic loss for the Greensboro community and North Carolina. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Stephen’s family,” Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro said in a statement. “Equality NC promises to follow this investigation closely to ensure that it is thorough and justice is served.”

Sgro added: “The loss of a community member is always tragic, but this loss is unacceptable. As a fellow citizens of Greensboro, my husband Ryan and I mourn tonight and stand in solidarity with the LGBT community in Greensboro.”

Chemistry owner Wofford had also issued the following statement on his nightclub’s Facebook profile after news of the attack earlier in the week:

“To All Greensboro: with great sadness and a heavy heart I write this post. Sunday morning our friend and regular customer Steven left Chemistry by cab to a local hotel with Garry Gupton whom he met earlier that evening. A few hours later, Steven was viciously assaulted, robbed and set on fire in the hotel; over 52% of his body is severely burned. This brutal attack has left Steven hospitalized and fighting for his life. Now it’s our turn to help. This weekend, on Saturday November 15 the Q will be holding a silent auction from 2 – 6pm to raise money. That night, all of us at Chemistry will be doing our part. First let me say how proud I am of my staff and entertainers for their willingness to help. They have all agreed to donate their pay and tips; Chemistry will be donating the entire door cover, and all Jello Shot sales. 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. Also I remind you to 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.”



Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

68 replies on “Gay veteran dies from injuries in Greensboro hotel attack”

  1. I lived for several years in Greensboro in the late 90’s and never would have imagined such a brutal hate crime being perpetrated against a member of the local gay community there. I just learned this shocking news from my dear friend who knows Stephen and am writing from NV simply to express my sadness and support for Stephen Patrick as he fights to recover from his devastating injuries. I am outraged that the monster who committed this violent attack has tried to strike terror into the hearts of so many members of Greensboro’s gay community. If there’s any justice, may the attacker rot in prison for the rest of his miserable, hate-poisoned life.

    1. Is it just me or is the police statement as to why they think this isn’t a hate crime just fucking retarded? “he didnt say he was trying to kill anyone” well NO SHIT! He’s accused of a crime and he’s not join to say anything to make it worse.

    2. You can be gay and commit a hate crime against another gay individual. A hate crime means that there as a crime motivated by bias. I bet once we get some details confirmed, it will be evident this was a bias-motivated attack that will rise to a hate crime.

      1. As tragic as this is, it is likely not a hate crime. According to everything I’ve read, this was two consenting gay adults going to a hotel together for the night.

        The question is – what made Gupton turn into a monster. If, indeed, he planned this out to kill a “f*g”, it is a hate crime. If he just participated and then flipped when confronted with his own actions, it’s a crime of self-hate, guilt, shame and you can blame this one on the teachings of his church.

        Hence, it really may not be a hate crime, unless hate-crimes include self-hatred, which they don’t.

    3. I also went to high school with Garry an was very shocked to see this, he was a funny an quiet kid. Never was big with the girls so I’m sure he was still in the closet. He wa picked on a lot in CrüeL ways This might have been a unsure step out the closet but somthing had to of triggered him to act the way he did. If I had to guess it was alcohol mixed with somone on the verge of loosing it. Theres no excuse an it’s very sad to see.

    4. if u knew mr white he always had an hand problem he put his hands on me and matthew and a few other guys and we didn’t press charges and even been kicked out of clubs for fighting so I know mr. white is no saint and he just found someone that wasn’t afraid of him

    5. I lived in North Carolina for 5 years, most of which was spent in Greensboro and Winston-Salem. I am not surprised that this happened there. Most craigslist ads in the Triad begin with “married man, discreet…” in the men for men section. That says it all. The south is full of closeted gay men, voting for a political party that doesn’t support them, working for wages that are lower than any where else in the U.S. and always going to church every Sunday to practice a religion that condemns them. I am so incredibly happy that I moved home to San Francisco, California.

  2. Kathy, you DO realize the attacker is gay as well? This was HORRIBLE but it wasn’t a “hate crime”. He didn’t try to kill him because he is gay.

    1. How do you know that? With gay marriage just being legalized, it’s entirely possible he lured White to a hotel so that he could hurt him. Wolf in sheep’s clothing

      1. Actually he isn’t gay or openly gay anyway. His facebook displays interested only in women and I bet if you ask any of his friends or family they would probably say he’s straight. With that said, just because the victim was gay doesn’t necessarily mean the crime was a hate crime towards homosexuals. It

      2. This guy told people at the bar if had taken him weeks to work up the nerve to come in Chemistry, according to the initial articles. A gay on gay crime can most certainly be a hate crime, if the perpetrator is filled with self-loathing or shame about his or her gayness. There remains a great deal of internalized homophobia in our community. I hope we can all start being more kind to each other and ourselves since the reasons for being in the closets are starting to slowly fall away.

    2. Excuse me but if someone I happen to be with is suddenly on FIRE I would be there helping to put the FIRE out. Hello???

    1. My comment was meant to your statement Ed,I believe you seriously nailed it right there. Another way to put it would b, the things we HATE about someone else,are usually things we hate about ourselves. All kinds of diff ways to say it, but the things that were done to this man, do not say the accused was irritated,it just spells hate ,vicious hate,loathe for the victim is writtan everywhere. If Mr white was violent,and known for using excessive force its clear he was not in this situation, seems like someone who is being heard screaming, apparently beaten and set on fire, is not the aggressor,not this time anyway. I don’t believe that comment anyway. This guy has no defense, he doesn’t look like he had to set anyone on fire his throat isn’t cut, doesn’t sound like they found anything wrong with him. Those that presented this comment,u should b ashamed, show some respect . Opinions are like assholes everyone has one. My opinion……… this guy has some serious, serious , issues, like the kids that go shoot up schools, he fits profile for sure,surprised this was his first crime No telling how many he has committed in his mind. Lock him up,through away the key. You’ll b sorry if you don’t. This man is evil. He will do this again if given oppertunity. Sad for this poor vuctim

  3. It’s so sad… No one deserves that treatment, regardless of anyone’s beliefs, crimes, opinions. It’s horrible.

    1. One correction, Michael. The story has been updated and the guy didn’t make it. So, this jerk not only ruined another man’s life, he ended it.

  4. Would you all quit it with the “probably a hetero-white-hispanic” “Tea Partier H8 person” It sounds frikkin idiotic.

  5. Hello, I know Garry and this shocked me, first let me say that I hope the victim recovers quickly and I am sorry this happened. Garry was a normal guy I’ve known him for 13-15 years, I know his family and his dad is a great man, his mother passed away a few years ago. I’m pretty sure Garry is gay as well, to me I never saw him doing anything like this Gary is a very friendly person and doesn’t have a history of violence. I’m not standing up for him because this behavior cant be over looked, I don’t know much about what happened other than what I’ve read and I know myself and others who know him are shocked. I don’t even know what else to say other than hoping for a speedy recovery and justice in the case no matter what.

    1. As a gay person myself, I have seen many destructive behaviors from closeted people that are unwilling to accept their own sexuality, much less admit it to anyone else. If what you say of Garry is true, I am sorry that he didn’t feel that he could be open about his sexuality, which may have prevented this tragedy. Now Steven’s life is irrevocably and painfully altered, and Garry has thrown his freedom away. This is why gay people fight to be accepted or at least tolerated in society; it is critical to the mental health and wellbeing of gay people everywhere.

    2. That’s great chris. When the pig Is burned over 50 % of his very own body we all can open up the topic if forgiveness. Until then he should be executed by the state for his crime. Gay straight I don’t give a flying hoot. He doesn’t matter any more. He created that scenario for himself and the horror of this crime discounts any reason he can put ossibly have. How many people doubt that he is going to say drugs and alcohol are the reason he remembers nothing? I don’t care. I do not care. Its. The victim who can we to forgive. That is not our place.

      1. okay eve I’m not sure what you are saying, no one has said anything about forgiveness. As a matter of fact I believe I said “justice in the case no matter what” and “I’m not standing up for him”. I’m just trying to give a little insight for people how are wondering about Garry. He committed the crime and he deserves to pay for it, I don’t understand why he did it, I’m not a physiatrist or a lawyer, in fact I don’t have anything to do with it, just trying to offer a little explanation about the criminal.

      2. Tom “ewe” I know Garry personally as well and I just have to say that although his actions are beyond reason and make him seem to be made of pure evil…they are NOT the type of actions Garry was known for, he was a kind hearted person with his own demons that I think pushed him to react to something in this terrible way. I wish nothing but a speedy recovery and my heart goes out to the victim however until the full story is known it is ignorant to assume that Garry just attacked this man for no reason. I doubt it was a robbery and definitely do not think it was a “lurking” attack….as Garry was gay (tho only his closest friends knew of it. ) for me this is not only shocking but just plain unbelievable. He must of had a reason and until the rest of us know of that reason people should stop saying he deserves to be killed, out down like a animal, because no one has the right to take another’s life.

  6. We shouldn’t really call this a hate crime until there’s more information available.

    Regardless, it’s a terrible tragedy for the victim and his family.

    1. Oh yeah right . Setting people on FIRE is all about love. That murderous animal should be shot down by a government firing squad. That is what should be the result at his panic defense trial. I said it and I will say it again. That murdereous animal should be killed by the state.

      1. There may have been several reasons for how this tragedy happened. The police have ruled out a hate crime, but it could have been a robbery involving some drugs that got out of hand or the suspect may be mentally ill. Or it could have been a robbery involving some kind of tragic accident.

        There will be enough time for justice later – we need to let the police and the courts do their job and do what we can for the victim and his family.

        If you want to direct your anger at hate-mongers and bigots, direct it at the demons we know – Phil Berger and his cronies in the legislature and the hate group, NOM.

    2. okay eve I’m not sure what you are saying, no one has said anything about forgiveness. As a matter of fact I believe I said “justice in the case no matter what” and “I’m not standing up for him”. I’m just trying to give a little insight for people how are wondering about Garry. He committed the crime and he deserves to pay for it, I don’t understand why he did it, I’m not a physiatrist or a lawyer, in fact I don’t have anything to do with it, just trying to offer a little explanation about the criminal.

  7. Someone correct me if I’m wrong (and it’s very sad), but as of 6/21/2013 North Carolina Hate Crime laws do NOT include crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This whole situation, whether Straight-on-Gay or Gay-on-Gay, is extremely tragic. I understand Steve may have already suffered some amputations due to the attack.

    1. And this surprises you because? It’s North Carolina, for God’s sake!

      You should be aware by now that the victim didn’t survive this vicious attack.

      This kind of thing is going on regularly in more than 30 cities in Russia. Organized gangs entrap gays they meet on the Internet and invite them over, where they are met by a dozen or so people who bash and humiliate them.

      The really sad thing is that those bashers feel they have the support of the government because of strict new anti-gay laws.

  8. A guy, 26, is in a gay bar and he knows it. Another man comes up to him, or vice versa, and the 26 yr. old leaves willingly with someone twice his age. Another man no less! He goes to the older man’s hotel, and others who know him, say they can’t figure out why he did what he did. He’s in gay bar, goes to another man’s room, savagely and brutally attacks the older man, and then sets Stephen on fire! Who cares if you don’t know why he did it. Gupton knows! He hates himself, and he, Gupton, saw himself(his true sexuality)in Stephen. Self-hate! Pure and simple. Deadly pure and simple. Never, ever doubt, that self-hatred can kill. Believe it!

  9. Change one thing about this story – the sex of the accused.

    A married 46 year old man with mental issues picks up a young girl half his age and takes her to a motel. She does the exact same thing to the man claiming he tried to rape her.

    Now where would be the condemnation against her?

  10. This probably will not get categorized as a hate crime because of the grey area, but I think it more than likely was. The guy told the bartender he had been experimenting with men since age 19 and it took him a month and a half to finally come into the bar that night. I’m jonly an armchair psychologist, but that smacks of self-loathing and projected hatred. Plus, now you say he says he likes women on his FB page. This whole story is sickening.

    1. You changed quite a few things about the story vigil. Steven was not married, it never said he had mental issues, and nothing was mentioned or even suspected about him trying to rape the monster who killed him. Also, from what I have noticed in the gay community, age is not a factor. Love is love, attraction is attraction. Your scenario is quite different and quite absurd in this context. Are you actually standing up for the monster? It’s unclear.

  11. Chemistry nightclub just posted on their FB feed that Stephen passed away. Funds are still being collected for the family to cover expenses.

    I would imagine that additional charges might be filed against Gupton.

  12. The only reason this is not considered a hate crime is the ambiguous wording of North Carolina’s hate crime statute. Sexual orientation is not covered and that needs to change. Though I am grateful that Steven’s suffering is over, my heart is broken for Alex, his family and friends. It is my hope that this savage bastard never see the light of day as a free man again. If he is not charged with Murder in the First, there will be no true justice for Steven.

  13. The guy committed murder. The nature of the attack indicates he was mentally ill at best and if he had a convo as indicated with the bartender stating he was gay then he was conflicted and snapped. His lawyer will probably do the insanity plea. It does appear he had some self hatred and took it out on the person who was closest to him in proximity.

  14. has anyone thought of TV shows like American Horror Story that Wed White was attacked? The Halloween episode where Dandy goes to a gay bar and leave with a gay guy. Then beat, kills, and cuts his arms off? Just crazy!!! Plus gay marriage just passed? Gupton on his FB states he want to be a hero like Batman, have a striped jail jersey. And do good for the community?! Was this his contribution? Seems motivated in some way a straight guy doesn’t just go to a gay club and leave with a gay guy for a hotel?

  15. I went to high school with Stephen. He was one of the kindest, brightest, sweetest people I knew there, and I am sitting in my New Mexico home today just aghast at what has happened to him. For all of those who knew and loved Stephen, I am deeply sorry, and for the gay community in Greensboro I wish you peace and love.

  16. I was at the hotel that night as a patron and everyone had to be evacuated. I have been following this story and would like to let everyone know what I saw and heard. First I’m very saddened to hear of Stephen’s passing. I am in no way defending the suspect, Gupton, with what I have to say. This is just what I seen and heard. Mr. Gupton was screaming irrationally about Isis and how everyone was in danger. He had locked himself with the victim in the room and the door had to be physically broken through. I do not know why Gupton did what he did but he was not acting like he was in his right mind. Continual screaming and screaming about Isis. I had assumed maybe he was PTSD and having a flashback and had snapped. This was just my outsider assumption and they may be very wrong. I will be keeping Stephens family in my prayers

  17. I went to southeast Guilford high school with gary gupton he was always picked on in school he talked with a lisp and was what I would call mentally challenged after talking to him a few minutes you can definitely tell hes a few french fries short of a happy meal. I do not believe it was a hate crime I always thought gary was gay no one ever saw him with any girls basically because no one would give him the time of day he was very quite and kept to himself most of the time I always knew eventually he would snap i just never thought he would snap so violently and do the horrible things he did to that poor man gay or not no one deserves to be treated inhumane such as mr. White was. He will probably undergo a psychological evaluation he be but in a mental institution hes literally be losing his mind for years hes never been all there I believe he had a lack of oxygen to his brain whenever he was born but none of these problems are reason to kill another man but we are normal people were not the judge and jury that will be left in our lord and saviors hands.

  18. I was a patron at the hotel that night. The suspect, Gupton, was screaming and screwing about Isis and How they were coming to kill everyone. He had locked himself in the room along with the victim and police ha to break door down. He was not acting like he was in his right mind. His screaming is what alerted people to call the police first. I thought he must have been someone who had gone overseas and had PTSD and had snapped! If he was trying to commit a crime just to do it he could have left and not been there when police showed up. My prayers are with the victims family. I am in no way taking up or defending the suspect, just letting everyone know what I seen and heard. This is why the police is not considering it a hate crime. It’s a someone snapped for some reason and committed a crime.

  19. My posts aren’t showing up for some reason so posting again. Was at hotel as customer. Gupton was out of his mind screaming about Isis . I thought he must have PTSD this is why police don’t think it’s hate crime. He had lost it

  20. Gupton had locked himself in room with victim instead of leaving which he could have easily done. His screaming is what alerted people to call police. He had a mental break down or something. Completely irrational making no sense but screwing to save urself Isis was there killing people. Sad sad story all the way around

  21. Why does the story have to label the victim as Gay Veteran? Why can’t it just state: Local man assaulted. Why does everyone have to label it? It was a crime. A horrendous crime that has ruined on life and taken another.
    Also there is mention of Fund Raisers for the victim’s bills. If he was injured while in the service, was he not entitled to veteran’s benefits or is this just another example of how the VA has let down our veterans?

  22. I haven’t read all the comments, but I’m sure someone else said something similar. This may not be a “hate crime”, but there is always some form of hate behind a crime like this. Hate for yourself, your life, the other person or what they represent. Unfortunately, hate and evil are all around us. Please don’t let sadness and legitimate outrage pull any of your down that dark emotional path because of this tragedy.

  23. FYI, as a Veteran myself, Burial in a VA national cemetery is available for Mr. White. (Spouse and dependents included at no cost.) This includes the gravesite, the grave liner, opening and closing the grave, a headstone or marker, burial flag and military full honors. VA Medical Center Salisbury NC, which has just expanded, is available but the family must contact them. The cemetery is very nice.

  24. National Cemetery Scheduling Office (www.cem.va.gov/bbene/need.asp) or the national cemetery where burial is desired. A copy of veterans discharge document, DD214, that specifies period of active duty and character of service is used to determine eligibility. A copy of the death certificate and proof of relationship to the Veteran may be required.

  25. The reality is this, the bar closes at 2 and the incident happened at 4:30, 2.5 hours later so things happened prior to the incident and if drugs were involved that just set the stage to make it worse. This is a clear case of a person in the closet who lost it after he most likely performed a particular sex act for the first time and could not mentally process it. This has happened many times in history the most famous being Mathew Shepherd. Does anyone remember the guy who was shot up with windex after leaving Babylon one night., same story different way of committing the crime. Unfortunately there are many men who are raised to believe that homosexuality is wrong, they act on their wants and desires and then turn on the person who they performed them with. I doubt this was a hate crime but rather a closeted gay guy who could not handle his first incidence of intercourse. Regardless its very sad and Gupton should die for his actions.

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