Teen suspect arrested for fatal stabbing of New York poet Ryan Carson

Ryan Carson, a drugs safety activist well-known to the New York City community, was fatally stabbed in the chest on Monday

Martha McHardy,Amelia Neath
Thursday 05 October 2023 18:04 BST
Search for suspect in fatal Brooklyn stabbing

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Louise Thomas

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A teenager has been arrested for the murder of New York City poet and activist Ryan Carson, who was stabbed to death in front of his girlfriend after the couple left a wedding on Long Island.

Brian Dowling, 18, was arrested after he was allegedly captured on surveillance footage stabbing Carson, 32, in a random attack in Brooklyn in the early hours of Monday morning.

Carson was walking home with his girlfriend at around 4am when he was attacked.

In disturbing surveillance footage obtained by The New York Post, the couple, both dressed in formal attire, were seen pausing to sit and speak at a bench bus stop as a stranger in a black hoodie strolled past them.

Up ahead, the stranger started to kick scooters that were parked near the curb when suddenly he turned to look at Carson and said, “What the f*** are you looking at?”

The suspect was allegedly caught on camera stabbing the activist
The suspect was allegedly caught on camera stabbing the activist (NYPD)

The activist replied and said he wasn’t looking at anything, but the erratic man decided to pursue the couple.

“I’ll kill you,” the man threatened, to which Carson said, “Chill! Chill!” while stepping between the stranger and his girlfriend trying to quell the situation.

The attacker then ran after Carson, who fell over the bench he was sitting on moments ago.

The suspect grabbed Carson’s suit jacket and threw him on the ground before stabbing the victim three times in the chest.

The attacker is then seen spitting on the girlfriend before turning back to Carson and kicking him as he lies curled up on the sidewalk.

The suspect’s girlfriend suddenly appears in the frame, and says “I’m so sorry.”

Ryan Carson
Ryan Carson (NO OD NY/YouTube)

An unknown woman was then caught by the surveillance footage shouting a name at the suspect and yelling “Don’t hurt him!”

The video cuts off just after Carson’s girlfriend embraced him while he was lying on the ground.

The girlfriend later told police that the suspect tossed the knife on a pile of trash and then retrieved it before fleeing, according to sources.

The activist was taken to Kings County Hospital Centre and was pronounced dead at 4.18am.

Carson’s girlfriend is believed to have sustained no injuries.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said a stab wound had pierced directly into Carson’s heart, causing his death.

“The knife pierces Mr. Carson’s heart, causing his death,” he 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 couple had been walking at Lafayette Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard after they had just gotten off the subway and were on their way home when the attack happened, police said.

Carson’s activist work focused on sustainability and environmental policies at the New York Public Interest Research Group, friends said.

He moved to New York City from Boston in 2010 to attend Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and previously worked as the executive director of NO OD NY, which he founded to raise awareness for overdose prevention centres.

Most recently he worked as a senior solid waste campaign manager at the New York Public Interest Research Group, according to his LinkedIn.

A statement from NYPIRG described Carson as “a beloved staffer, colleague and friend, and a creative, talented, relentless and upbeat advocate for students and the environment.”

“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,” the statement read. “Ryan was a consummate team player who would happily undertake the basic ‘blocking and tackling’ tasks necessary to advance and win on an issue, but also shined in the spotlight as a leader, campaign manager and spokesperson.”

Anyone with information is urged to call CrimeStoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

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