The 26-year-old Connecticut man who was chased naked by a mob through the streets of New York last weedkend, and who ran to his death on the subway tracks, had been seen acting oddly the day before he died, police now say.
Gerard Coury, who died early Saturday, had been seen by transit police dressed only in his trousers and talking to himself Friday afternoon, according to Inspector Charles Sibon of the Manhattan Detective Bureau.
When apprehended by police later in the day at Grand Central Station; Coury said he had been mugged not that day, but a week before, and was junable to return home to Connecticut. The police, while skeptical about the week-old mugging story, felt his actions were normal, according to Sibon.
A high school honor student who had dropped out of Connecticut's Fairfield University and worked at odd jobs such as a gas station attendant and waiter, Coury had reportedly left his home in Connecticut Friday for work in Washington. He was picked up by police Friday evening, clad only in trousers, and had called home for help, telling his mother he had been mugged.
Later that evening, rather than remain in Grand Central, he left the building. At about 5:20 the next morning, he was reportedly surrounded by a mob in Times Square. The mob stripped him of his clothing, taunted him and chased him.
Times Square, even at 5 in the afternoon, is an unsavory place. Sex shops line the streets; hookers and pimps and small-time drug dealers do open business. That such a group might taunt an oddly attired man, perhaps a man who was frightened or acting strangely, surprises no one.
"Motivation?" one Mid-Town South detective who covers the area said laughing. "Who needs motivation on 42nd Street?"
Still, the case raises a number of questions that police have yet to answer: Was the man actually mugged a first time, and if so, when? Why would a mugger remove the man's clothes? If help was supposed to be coming, why did the young man leave the terminal? Was Coury on drugs? (A specialist in the field, psychologist Dr. Steven Lerner, a consultant on drug abuse at UCLA and co-author of "PCP: The Devil's Dust," notes that some of Coury's behavior -- disorientation, disrobing and recoiling when touched -- is typical of users of phencyclidine, the drug known as PCP or Angel Dust.)
A police investigation of the case is under way.