The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Gay special forces vet attacked, dies

On Nov. 9, 46-year-old local veteran and former CCE student Stephen White walked into Chemistry Nightclub in downtown Greensboro. He left a few hours later with 26-year-old Garry Joseph Gupton.

White was taken to the hospital after Gupton beat and burned him almost to death at the Battleground Inn.

“I started calling Stephen’s phone,” said White’s partner Alex Teal to The Guilfordian. “We were still dating but on break. I said Monday we’d officially be back together.”

Both of White’s arms were partially amputated while in the hospital. White regained some consciousness in the hospital. By Nov. 14, he had improved enough that his ventilator was removed.

“They didn’t even tell me how badly he was burnt,” said Teal.

White died six days after the assault.

“When I first heard it had happened, I just couldn’t believe someone would do that to him,” said White’s friend Hank Heiser to The Guilfordian. “I’ve never seen anyone that went out of their way to make people feel comfortable like he did.”

White’s funeral took place on Nov. 21 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

“I’m glad the Catholic Church was able to offer the funeral rites for my friend and his faithful family,” said the church’s Monsignor Anthony Marcaccio to The Guilfordian. “Nothing will ever excuse the senseless psychotic violence that was perpetrated.”

Currently, Gupton is in custody and facing first-degree murder charges.

“I never would have dreamed something like this would happen here in Greensboro,” said Chemistry Nightclub owner Drew Wofford on Chemistry Nightclub’s Facebook page.

Gupton cannot be charged, however, with a hate crime.

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

According to the Human Rights Campaign, an attack on someone based on sexual orientation is not a hate crime under North Carolina state law.

“It takes a lot of hate (to burn someone),” said Teal. “To me, this is a hate crime.”

This is something Teal hopes to change.

“Just because we have the right to be married (now) doesn’t mean that right can’t be taken away,” said Teal. “If you ask me if we can make a change the answer is yes, but only if we keep this in the media.”

Regardless of the law, many believe it is a far stretch to say this was not a crime motivated by hate.

“(White) was specifically picked because he was at a gay club and (Gupton), under whatever guise, picked someone of a certain sexuality and targeted them and killed them,” said Guilford Pride President and sophomore Colin Nollet.

“Sexuality played into the reason (White) was targeted.”

After White’s death, Teal began the Stephen White Foundation.

“There have been quite a few gay crimes we don’t know about,” said Teal. “We’re trying to start the foundation to help.”

At Guilford, students are doing the same.

“We’re trying to set up a grant in his name,” said CCE SGA member Jeff Ray.

The grant would aid students who identify as LGBTQA or who have served in the military.

For Guilford, White’s death has left a space that cannot be filled.

“His death, and especially the manner of it, has hit his friends and classmates hard,” said Friends Center Director and Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies Max Carter. “It reminds us all not only how fragile life is, but how it is even

more threatened for those on the margins.”

The Greensboro community remembers White fondly and awaits justice.

“He was just another person that served our country, got blown apart and put back together,” said Bench Tavern bartender Jim Lang to The Guilfordian.“I don’t even know what to think about it. I don’t know what else to say. (White) was the best person you could ever have around.”

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About the Contributor
Nicole Zelniker
Nicole Zelniker, Editor-in-Chief
English major, Environmental Studies and Communication minors
Nicole loves newspapers, social justice and Harry Potter.

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