Man opens fire at gay bar in Virginia, killing one

Sunday, September 24th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ROANOKE, Va. – A man who said he wanted to shoot gay people and asked the way to the nearest gay bar is accused of killing one person and wounding six others, police said.

The gunman walked into the Backstreet Cafe late Friday, ordered a beer, and after a few minutes pulled a handgun from his coat and began firing, said police spokeswoman Shelly Alley.

Seven of the 25 people in the bar were wounded, one critically. Danny Lee Overstreet, 43, died at the scene in what police were investigating as a hate crime.

Members of the city's gay and lesbian community planned a vigil at the bar Saturday night.

Ronald Edward Gay, 53, was charged with murder and was being held without bail Saturday. Additional charges are expected, Ms. Alley said.

Police said Mr. Gay had been in a different bar Friday and had asked patrons there where the city's nearest gay bar was, telling witnesses he wanted to shoot some gay people. One person gave him directions and then called police, who arrived at the Backstreet Cafe shortly after the shooting.

Officers found Mr. Gay walking about two blocks from the bar, and they found a 9 mm pistol in a trash can near the bar, Ms. Alley said. Mr. Gay, she said, gave no motive.

Mr. Overstreet's sister, Darlene Overstreet, said her brother often visited the Backstreet Cafe. "He just stopped by to have a beer, that's all," she said.