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A Hell’s Kitchen bar owner is warning Pride Month revelers to stay alert for those primed to target the LGBTQ+ community as details of the yet-unsolved Julio Ramirez case began to circulate widely.
Ramirez, 25, a mental health counselor living in Brooklyn, disappeared early on April 21 after a night out in Hell’s Kitchen at Rise Bar, Mickey Spillane’s and the Ritz Bar and Lounge. Surveillance cameras showed him leaving Ritz around 3:17am accompanied by three unidentified men. All four entered a taxi, but Ramirez was the sole passenger when the driver contacted police at 4:10am to report him as unresponsive. Ramirez was taken to Mount Sinai Beth Israel where he was declared dead.
Ted Arenas owner of Rise and The Spot said: “If you ever feel you’re in danger while inside a venue, please notify a bartender and/or security so businesses can give you distance to get away from people that might be trying to cause you harm. Don’t ever leave drinks unattended, you never know if someone is trying to put something in there. Also if going home with someone you don’t know, always message a friend, telling them who you are going home with and where they live.”
City Council Member Erik Bottcher posted publicly on Instagram about the case, stating: “Such a heartbreaking and upsetting story. My office has been in contact with the NYPD about this case. Whoever did this must be brought to justice.” W42ST reached out to Bottcher’s office for further elaboration on his collaboration with investigators and has yet to receive a response.
Despite heightened community awareness, many questions remain unresolved in the case. Ramirez’s friends and family are searching for answers about the identity of the three men he was seen leaving The Ritz with on April 21. So far, no surveillance footage has been released to the public.
Several friends reported receiving disconcerting alerts that Ramirez had stopped sharing his location with them at 3:46am, after he was seen leaving with the unidentified individuals, but their texts to him were displayed as “Read” long after his death. Ramirez’s brother Carlos reported to NBC News that as much as $20,000 had been transferred out of Julio’s bank accounts through Zelle and Apple Pay.
The NYPD declined to elaborate further on the investigation, saying only: “The deceased has been identified as Ramirez, Julio, 25-year-old male. There are no further updates and the investigation remains ongoing.”
The stalled case recalled the unnerving details of another tragedy in New York’s LGBTQ+ community — the Last Call KIller, Serial murderer Richard Rogers targeted gay men throughout the 1980s and 1990s at popular nightspots around town, eluding capture for years, in part due to a lack of investment from the NYPD.
Ramirez’s friends and family hope to keep momentum in his case, urging anyone with information to reach out to investigators. Ramirez’s friend Karinina Quimpo, who has been actively campaigning for answers about his death, said: “We’re hoping the media attention will help get some insight.”
Artist Brayan Montez-Terrazas added in a post about Ramirez: “My heart sank when I heard about this story last week. Julio was taken from his family too soon. His family and the Latino LGBTIA community deserve answers. We cannot let the police throw these things out like they don’t matter. We deserve better. On the eve of PRIDE month, let them know how you feel. Get angry!!”
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips on the CrimeStoppers website at https://crimestoppers.nypdonline.org/ or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are confidential. The 7th Precinct Detective Squad can also be contacted.
W42ST worked with Montez-Terrazas to create a “JUSTICE FOR JULIO” flyer that can be posted around the neighborhood to encourage the community to reach out with information. Tips can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org