An 18-year-old suspect has been arrested and charged in connection to the stabbing death of New York City social justice advocate Ryan Carson, 31, according to police.
Brian Dowling was taken into custody at an apartment building in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Oct. 5, the same area where he was allegedly seen in surveillance footage stabbing Mr. Carson as well as threatening to kill the victim’s girlfriend before spitting in her face. He is facing charges of murder and criminal possession of a weapon.
New York Police Department (NYPD) Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny detailed the homicide during a news conference on Oct. 4, saying a black male wearing a hoodie of the brand Champion was seen on video strolling by Mr. Carson and his girlfriend shortly before 4 a.m. on Oct. 2. The video shows there wasn’t any interaction at all when they crossed paths.
The couple was waiting at a bus stop on the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard and Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn when they witnessed the suspect kick mopeds and scooters parked on the sidewalk. As they slowly approach him, the assailant can suddenly be heard yelling at Mr. Carson: “What are you looking at … I’ll kill you right now.”
“Chill. Chill. Chill,” Mr. Carson then says repeatedly, trying to de-escalate the situation. The killer, however, suddenly draws a knife and swings it several times before stabbing the victim multiple times, including one blow to the chest.
“The knife pierces Mr. Carson’s heart, causing his death,” Mr. Kenny said. “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.”
The suspect is then seen fleeing the scene. Moments later, an unidentified woman arrives at the scene and starts to apologize to Mr. Carson’s girlfriend, identifying the killer as “Brian.”
Mr. Carson was taken to Kings County Hospital Center by ambulance where he pronounced deceased at 4:18 a.m., according to Mr. Kenny.
In video footage circulating on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, the teenager is being led away by police in tears after they execute a search warrant at the residence where he was located.
Mr. Carson was known in New York for his activism that focused on environmental causes as well as the opioid crisis.
As a student at Pratt Institute, Mr. Carson represented a chapter on the New York Public Interest Research Group’s (NYPIRG) student board of directors and later went on to hold a variety of positions at the project for nearly a decade, including leading a statewide campaign that focused on environmental causes like reusable bottles.
“Ryan was a beloved staffer, colleague and friend, and a creative, talented, relentless and upbeat advocate for students and the environment,” NYPIRG said in a statement. “His engaging personality, hearty laugh and wide-ranging intelligence were keys to his success in advancing the causes he deeply cared about in his work and personal life.”
Mr. Carson was also known in New York’s political circles, including by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who remembered him as a “rising talent” and “extraordinary activist.”
“Ryan Carson threw himself into everything he did with passion and humanity. I worked with him on a big townhall he hosted with NYPIRG and on the Inflation Reduction Act,” Mr. Schumer said in a post on X along with a photo of Mr. Carson smiling. “May his memory and work inspire us.”
New York Mayor Eric Adams also remembered Mr. Carson in a post on X, while also thanking the NYPD for their “quick work on this incredibly tragic case.”
“This arrest is an important step in justice for his family and friends, and we cannot let this kind of violence take place on our streets,” Mr. Adams said. “Let us continue to pray for Ryan’s loved ones and the community.”
Further details of the investigation or a possible motive for what currently appears to be an unprovoked attack are not yet known. According to an ABC News report, citing police, the suspect had a prior summons for disorderly conduct in 2022.