A 25-year-old got in a taxi outside an NYC gay bar. He was dead an hour later.

Social worker Julio Ramirez, 25, met up with a friend on April 20 for a night out in Hell’s Kitchen, a Manhattan neighborhood near Times Square in New York known for its lively restaurant and bar scene. Their last stop was the Ritz Bar and Lounge, a popular, multilevel gay venue in the heart of the neighborhood’s Restaurant Row.

Surveillance footage from a nearby security camera shows Ramirez walking away from the venue with three unidentified men at 3:17 a.m., according to his brother, Carlos, who said he was briefed by investigators. The four men then entered a nearby taxi, a police source said, but Ramirez was alone in the backseat at 4:10 a.m. when the taxi driver approached a police officer 3 miles away in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood to say his passenger was unresponsive.

Despite efforts to save his life by the officer and the Emergency Medical Services team, Ramirez was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 4:49 a.m. on April 21, a police source said, adding that the initial cause of death was listed as a “possible drug overdose.” Ramirez’s official “cause and manner of death are pending further study,” according to the medical examiner, who told NBC News in an email that this could take “at least a few weeks.” Ramirez was initially identified as “John Doe,” his brother said, because neither his wallet nor phone were with him when he died.

Now, more than a month later, Ramirez’s family and friends are left with more questions than answers as they try to piece together what happened in his final hours. Who were the men who entered the taxi with him? Was he drugged? Are investigators prioritizing his case? Where are his phone and wallet? Who drained his bank accounts in the days following his death?

A night out in Hell’s Kitchen
Ramirez’s friends described him as a “sweet” and “smart” young man, and, according to his brother, Ramirez “believed in serving underprivileged communities.” Originally from Long Island, New York, he had just moved to New York City last year after obtaining a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees from the University at Buffalo. He had been living and working in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, where he was a bilingual mental health counselor.

Like many gay men in New York City, he was a frequent visitor to Hell’s Kitchen, which, along with its southern neighbor, Chelsea, reportedly has the highest concentration of LGBTQ bars and resources in the city — and perhaps the world.

On what would be his final night out in Hell’s Kitchen, Ramirez met up with his friend Carlos Camacho, a 24-year-old aspiring actor who lives in the neighborhood. Camacho said he and Ramirez met on April 20 at 7 p.m. and visited three venues all within a half-mile of each other: Rise Bar, a gay cocktail lounge; Mickey Spillane’s, a bar and restaurant; and, finally, Ritz Bar and Lounge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: