Clubs plan fundraiser for victim of brutal assault in Greensboro
A nightclub on Spring Garden Street in Greensboro is planning a fundraiser for one of its regular customers after the man was beaten and set on fire in a hotel room over the weekend.
Police responded to the Battleground Inn, located at 1517 Westover Terrace, about 4:30 a.m. Sunday after hotel staff called 911 to report a man screaming in the hotel. A fire alarm was activated about the same time. Officers encountered an incoherent Gary Joseph Gupton partially clothed and screaming once they arrived on scene. He was detained as officers began evacuating other guests. Firefighters found heavy smoke coming from Room 417 and once inside located Stephen Patrick White.
White, 46, was unconscious and badly burned. Authorities noticed injuries consistent with an assault. White remains at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in critical condition, with burns over most of his body. Police say his wounds and injuries are considered life-threatening.
Gutpon, 26, of 1312 Wiley Lewis Road, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill.
Police declined to discuss specifics of the incident due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, but did say the incident was not being investigated as a hate crime.
Word of the incident spread on social media, and fliers for a fundraiser to be held for White on Sunday appeared on Facebook.
Chemistry Nightclub is having an event Sunday night beginning at 8p.m.
Drew Wofford, one of the club’s owners, said White and Gupton met at the club earlier in the evening and left together in a cab.
Wofford said White was a regular customer over the last couple of years but that Gupton came to the club for the first time that evening.
“He came in early and was very friendly,” Wofford said. “He in no way seemed out of the ordinary.”
Gupton made his way around the club and met White. The two spent about 30 minutes at the bar.
“They seemed to be having a good time together,” Wofford said.
The two men left in a cab together at the end of the night. Staff called for the cab and the two left their cars parked at Chemistry.
“Something went horribly wrong. I don’t know what happened in the hotel,” Wofford said. “All I know is what the police are saying, that Gary left and returned to the hotel. A fire alarm was set and Gary was screaming when they got there. I’d like to think this was a horrible accident, but I don’t think that is the case.”
Wofford said White was very friendly and outgoing, that he was in a long-term relationship, but having a “rough spot.”
Chemistry staff gave police the surveillance video showing the two men leaving and getting into the cab.
“I think it’s just complete shock,” Wofford said. “Never in my wildest dreams would I think that I would meet someone and that they would viciously attack me and light me on fire.”
The club and the larger community planned for the fundraiser event this Sunday night, Wofford said. Staff will donate their tips and pay, the entertainers will donate their fees and the club will donate the door take to White and his family.
“It’s definitely a community effort,” Wofford said. “We try to look out for each other. I don’t know where else people are going to turn to.”
Wofford said that the he’d been in contact with White’s loved ones and that White was fighting through multiple surgeries.
The fundraiser event at Chemistry begins at 8pm with performances at 10pm and 12:30 a.m.
A second club, Q Lounge on West Market Street, plans a fundraiser for White on Saturday from 2 to 6 pm.
“He is not only a patron of this bar but he is considered a family member as many of our patrons are,” read a message posted on Q Lounge’s Facebook page. “PLEASE come out and support our cause.”