New York City Council urges LGBTQ community to remain vigilant following deaths of two gay men in Hell’s Kitchen

Manhattan City Councilman Erik Bottcher is urging the LGBTQ community to be “extra vigilant” when out on the town at night following the suspicious deaths of two gay men in Hell’s Kitchen.

Bottcher met with volunteers in the popular nightlife district Thursday night to distribute flyers with safety tips and raise awareness that one or more people may be assaulting, drugging and robbing gay men in the area.

The council member – himself a gay man who has spent much of his public service career campaigning for and supporting the LBGTQ community – urged bar-goers to search for two men, 25-year-old Julio Ramirez and 35 -year-olds to be on high alert John Umberger were both found dead in separate incidents after a night out in New York gay bars.

“We are demanding justice for the deaths of Julio Ramirez and John Umberger,” Bottcher said while handing out flyers at the corner of 9th Avenue and 49th Street. “We will not be intimidated. We won’t be intimidated. We won’t stay home. But we want there to be an ongoing awareness campaign.”

25-year-old Julio Ramirez smiles on a boat
Julio Ramirez, 25, died of an apparent drug overdose in the back seat of a taxi.

Bottcher and a team of volunteers planned to drop the flyers at bars in Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, and the West Village.

“We want people to be extra vigilant now while the investigation is ongoing,” he said.

Bottcher said he spoke to both the Manhattan Attorney’s Office and the NYPD Thursday night and was assured they each have a full team investigating the deaths.

“Therefore, I am confident that the investigation will be successful in the near future,” he said. “But in the meantime, we want to spread the word and make sure people hear about it.”

John Umberger was found dead in the Upper East Side apartment where he stayed while coming to town from DC

Ramirez died in the back seat of a cab in the early hours of April 21, and Umberger, of Washington, DC, was found dead on June 1 in the Upper East Side apartment where he was staying.

Both Ramirez and Umberger died of overdoses, had their phones and wallets stolen, and their bank accounts drained completely. About $20,000 was stolen from Ramirez’s bank accounts and credit cards, and $25,000 was transferred from Umberger’s accounts through cash apps like Venmo and Paypal.

Police believed the victims were drugged with roofies, known as the “rape drug.”

Investigators believe both men went to The Q NYC gay nightclub on Eighth Avenue, where they were each attacked by a group of three men before being found dead the next morning.

Police believe at least a dozen non-fatal cases of victims being drugged and robbed are linked. The NYPD has formed a major theft task force to investigate the crimes in which well-dressed victims were assaulted by three men in gay bars, drugged, and robbed of tens of thousands of dollars after their bank accounts were emptied and credit cards maxed out.

City councilor Erik Böttcher hands out flyers with safety tips at a bar.
Bottcher said one of the best tips is to share your location with someone you trust when bar hopping.
Christopher Sadowski

Bottcher said he wants people to have the information they need to stay safe – with the key tip being to share your location with others when going out.

“The first tip for me is one of the most important, which is to always share your location with someone you know and tell them who you’re with,” he said. “So if you’re going with someone you know, just let people know — someone who knows — where you’re going, who you’re going with.”

Other tips on the flyers, compiled by the NYC Office of Nightlife, include never leaving drinks unattended or accepting drinks from strangers, using fentanyl test strips to check for the presence of the deadly drug in other drugs, having a travel pan to get home safely and never leave a stranger without telling a friend.

Bottcher wants to spread awareness of the potential dangers and safety tips across all five counties.

“We want this to happen across the city. So we’re working with the Office of Nightlife to spread the word far and wide.” New York City Council urges LGBTQ community to remain vigilant following deaths of two gay men in Hell’s Kitchen


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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