NYPD: Suspect charged with murder in NYC activist's stabbing

NEW YORK -- The NYPD says Brian Dowling, an 18-year-old Brooklyn man, has been charged with murder in the deadly stabbing of public policy activist Ryan Carson.

Dowling faced a judge Thursday night, arraigned on a second-degree murder charge. The judge denied bail.

Only CBS New York was on the scene when Dowling was taken into custody at around 10 a.m. Thursday at his family's Brooklyn home.

"We have definitely seen him before, and he seemed like a very chilled kid, just mentally paranoid," neighbor Gloria Reyes said.

Police questioned Dowling at the 81st Precinct, before he was charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

Prosecutors claim two people identified Dowling from the surveillance video and that police recovered the assailant's apparent sweatshirt and knife. They also said the victim's girlfriend did not pick Dowling out of a photo array she was shown.

Dowling cried quietly as he was walked from the 81st Precinct to be transferred to court. This is his first arrest.

"Not one life was lost, two lives were lost. An 18-year-old who will now be in jail ... for the rest of his life, and a 31-year-old [sic] who tried his best to keep this community afloat. Everybody loses," Reyes said.

Dowling's parents were in the courtroom for his arraignment. He looked back at them frequently, and as he was taken back into custody, they waved goodbye and blew their son a kiss.

Dowling is due back in court next week.

Surveillance video shows person of interest

Carson and his girlfriend were seen on surveillance video around 4 a.m. Monday sitting at a bus stop on Malcolm X Boulevard in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Police said a man walked by them, with no interaction. Moments later, as the couple started walking, the man kicked over several moped scooters on the sidewalk, and then turned to Carson and said, "What are you looking at?"

"Mr. Carson begins to immediately try to de-escalate the situation," NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said in an earlier briefing.

Read More: Ryan Carson stabbing death: Surveillance video shows person of interest police are searching for

That's when the suspect pulled out a knife and swung at him, police said. Carson is seen tripping and falling to the ground, and the attacker stabs him three times, piercing his heart.

"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," Kenny said.

Investigators said they do not believe the suspect knew Carson or his girlfriend.

The suspect's sister is later seen coming over to apologize. It happened down the block from Dowling's home, where police said they recovered a possible weapon and clothing.

Carson remembered as community advocate

Carson was known for his activism against opioid overdoses. Over last decade, he worked at New York Public Interest Research Group, most recently dealing with recycling and solid waste. Previously, Carson advocated for safe injection facilities.

"He was just all over the place, trying to prevent drugs, just trying to keep the community afloat," said Bed-Stuy resident Gloria Reyes, who knew Carson.

Read More: Ryan Carson, social justice advocate, stabbed to death in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

Tributes have been pouring in by candlelight and by post. Mayor Eric Adams wrote Carson "turned his passion into purpose," and Sen. Chuck Schumer described him as "a rising talent and an extraordinary activist."

"Whenever you work with Ryan on an issue, as a colleague, you quickly become a friend because he was such a warm, endearing and fun guy to be around," said Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics.

Loved ones also held a vigil at the scene Monday night, just steps away from the home he shared with his roommates.

Stick with CBS New York for more details on this developing story. 

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