Police arrest suspect in murder of New York City activist

A teenage suspect has been arrested in connection with the murder of social justice activist Ryan Carson who was stabbed multiple times on a New York street while returning from a wedding.

Brian Dowling, 18, has been charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.

Mr Carson, 32, was killed near a bus station in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighbourhood early on 2 October.

Police said the attacker had been “acting agitated” before the assault.

Authorities initially withheld Mr Dowling’s identity until they had enough probable cause to make an arrest, local media reported.

Footage showed the teenager being led away in tears on Thursday morning by detectives executing a search warrant at his home, barely one block away from his alleged attack.

Neighbours described him to the New York Daily News as a recent high school graduate who worked in construction.

Surveillance camera footage shows the suspect, dressed in dark clothing, approach Mr Carson and an unidentified woman at a bench near a bus stop at about 04:00 local time (08:00 GMT).

According to officials, Mr Carson and his companion began to walk away after seeing the suspect kicking over parked scooters before he confronted them and began shouting obscenities.

“Mr Carson then immediately places himself between the man and his female companion to protect her,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny told reporters on Wednesday, adding that Mr Carson was attempting to “de-escalate” the situation.

Soon after, the suspect stabbed Mr Carson three times, including one blow to the chest that pierced his heart and ultimately killed him.

“As Mr Carson lay dying on the sidewalk, the male with the knife kicks him in the chest, threatens to stab the woman companion and spits in her face,” Mr Kenny added.

The video footage shows an unidentified woman, believed to be the suspect’s girlfriend, arrive soon after and apologise to the couple, police said.

Police have reportedly recovered the alleged murder weapon as well as the sweatshirt Mr Dowling was wearing at the time of his attack.

Mr Carson had lived in New York for 13 years. For a decade, he helped organise campaigns for the New York Public Interest Research Group, which is focused on waste policy.

Additionally, Mr Carson helped create a campaign called “No OD NY”, which was aimed at raising awareness of overdose prevention centres.

In 2021, he walked over 150 miles from New York City to Albany to raise awareness of the centres and other harm reduction measures, according to Gothamist.

“He advocated tirelessly for others, and his giving spirit was a buoy to all,” New York Mayor Eric Adams wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“His murder is unthinkable and the NYPD won’t rest until we bring him justice.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, who worked with Mr Carson at a town hall on inflation, called him a “rising talent and extraordinary activist”.

“May his memory and work inspire us,” the lawmaker wrote on X.

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