New York police are on the lookout for a man associated with several attacks on a New York gay bar called VERS, with the latest incident occurring on Saturday. The unidentified man has been caught on surveillance footage throwing a brazen brick at the establishment’s front window.
According to NBC News4, the attacks, which have become a pattern, come at the same time as the news of a mass shooting at a gay club in Colorado.
“Last night and several other nights in the past week, a man has come by with a brick and smashed our window during service when people are here,” the bar’s owner, David DeParolesa, told NBC News 4. “It’s a pattern. It’s the same window, it’s a brick, it’s a person that we finally caught on video last night.”
While the reinforced window took the hit, the attack on VERS is the fourth attack to occur in recent weeks. While no one was injured, Saturday’s attack took place at the peak of the night when the bar was filled with guests. The attack also occurred on the same night a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing five people and injuring at least 18 others.
“There’s a lot of heightened fear in the community from attacks happening all over the country, and we just want to make sure we’re providing a safe space and that’s what we’re doing,” DeParolesa said.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) confirmed with the outlet that it was now looking into the incident, but no arrests have been made at this time. While Saturday’s incident was caught on tape, the previous two incidents, which happened on Tuesday evening and last Sunday, were not.
DeParolesa told the Gothamist he had gone to the NYPD each time an incident occurred. However, detectives were “dismissive” of his suggestion that the attack could be bias-related. He was even allegedly discouraged from reporting incidents to the Hate Crimes Task Force, he said.
“I said, ‘We could be targeted because we’re a gay bar,’” he told the Gothamist. “One of the officers said, ‘Well you can’t know that.’”
“They weren’t seemingly interested in investigating it at the moment. They were really nonchalant.”
City Councilmember Erik Bottcher, who represents the neighborhood, said the police department should explain the apparent breakdown in their reporting process.
“They should’ve been connected to the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force after the first brick,” he told the Gothamist. “That clearly didn’t happen here and we need to find out why that is and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Other local officials, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, spoke up against the attack as well promising an increased police presence with a focus on protecting the LGBTQ community.
She added that state police and the NYPD were working to identify “hateful threats that may impact New Yorkers.”
However, while officials are speaking up, the lack of police attention has made many community members, including DeParolesa, feel as though they have no support and cannot rely on the police.
“It’s typical that we, as gay people who have spaces we’ve created, have to protect ourselves,” he told the Gothamist. “I’m not defeatist. In fact, I’m more emboldened than ever.”
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