Arrest of suspect in gay killings a relief at gay pride event

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Hundreds rallied for Reno's gay pride celebration on Saturday just hours after a baby-faced teen-ager wanted in the killings of two gay men in Florida and the bludgeoning of a San Francisco man was arrested here by the FBI.

''I started crying when I heard about it,'' Reno Gay Pride Inc. Executive Director Kaye Crawford said.

Adam Ezerski, 19, of Atlantic Beach, Fla., was taken into custody without incident in a hotel-casino just west of the downtown area along with Troy Young, 37, another San Francisco man.

The two had driven to Reno in a rented truck from San Francisco, where police had been delivering fliers with Ezerski's picture at gay bars, warning that Ezerski was suspected of preying on gay men.

''That's putting us back in the closet of fear,'' Crawford said. ''Any kind of discrimination is wrong, but that's the worst kind.''

Ezerski was arrested without incident, according to FBI Special Agent Michael F. McKinley.

''We asked him to identify himself and he replied, 'I'm Adam. I'm the person you're looking for,''' McKinley said.

Ezerski was booked on one count of first-degree murder and one of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. McKinley said the federal unlawful flight charge would be dropped next week so extradition proceedings could begin to return Ezerski to Florida to face the state murder charge.

Young was arrested on a parole violation.

Ezerski allegedly attacked Kevin Begoon, 43, in San Francisco Tuesday morning after befriending him and staying at his apartment for two days. That report caused local and federal authorities to patrol gay neighborhoods and warn residents that a killer could be among them.

FBI Special Agent Daron Borst said it had not been determined whether Ezerski is gay, but the suspect's brother said he is not.

Aaron Smith, 18, told the San Jose Mercury News his brother is a homophobic woman chaser.

Ezerski is accused in Florida of strangling Anthony Martilotto, 39, a dual resident of Brooklyn, N.Y. and Florida, at a Fort Lauderdale hotel on July 26. The FBI also connects Ezerski to the death of Irving Sicherer, 76, who was found bludgeoned to death a day earlier in Aventura, Fla.

Begoon told San Francisco authorities he awoke when Ezerski began striking him in the head with a plaster statue. After a struggle, the victim said Ezerski tried to strangle him before fleeing.

Police said they found Ezerki's fingerprint on a video tape inside the apartment.

The killings and search for Ezerski reminded many gay San Franciscans of the 1997 pursuit of one-time city resident Andrew Cunanan, who led police on a nationwide manhunt. He was sought in the murders of five gay men before turning up in Miami Beach, where he killed fashion designer Gianni Versace and then committed suicide.

''It's got so much of that Cunanan connection,'' said Chris Zarbetski, sitting outside a Castro cafe. ''There's a sleaziness attached to it.''

Ezerski's story aired on the TV show ''America's Most Wanted'' last weekend, and FBI officials received tips of sightings in the San Francisco Bay area. They did not say what prompted them to look for him in Reno.

Reno Police Lt. Hal Wood said it appeared that Ezerski was just passing through and was not attracted by the gay pride event.

Crawford said she expects 10,000 to attend the two-day celebration of diversity in a community that's not viewed as being particularly gay-friendly.

This is the first year organizers have been allowed to hang rainbow flags on Virginia Street, an honor the city granted in the past to other groups, but not gays.

''People from the Bay area don't know what fear means. That's why we have to have these celebrations,'' Crawford said.


Associated Press Writer Margie Mason in San Francisco contributed to this report.


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