Friday, May 20, 2022

Man sets fire to popular NYC gay club (VIDEO)

A bar in Brooklyn (NYC) caught fire after an unidentified man carrying a backpack allegedly poured gasoline on the floor, lit a match and fled the scene after causing a small explosion.

The incident happened Sunday around 9:30 p.m. The suspect told a bar worker that he was cleaning the floor, but when security approached him, he threw a lit match and fled, according to a bouncer’s account to the Daily News.

“I had just left, I was standing right outside the bar, when all of a sudden several people came running in and I saw huge, huge flames on top of the roof,” Claire Bendiner, co-owner of the “Rash” nightclub, told the New York Post, recalling the moment when the fire started at the Bushwick-based venue. “Everyone was frantic and screaming.”

Patrons and staff managed to evacuate, but a bartender and a DJ “were pretty badly burned by the flames” and remain hospitalized, Bendiner said. A security guard also “caught fire, slightly,” but did not require hospitalization, he added. “The (FDNY) fire department showed up quickly … It looks like it could have been a much worse situation.”

The business, located at 941 Willoughby Av, was devastated. “Very little will be salvageable, we’ll have to start over,” co-owner Jake Sillen said of the club, which opened just in October on the first floor of a three-story, two-apartment building. “We spent the last year putting all our time, energy, and heart into this place and we were very proud of what it was becoming. It was just getting on its feet.”

As for the alleged arsonist, no suspects or motive have yet been identified, and the NYPD confirmed only that the case is “under investigation.” “We really don’t have a lead, that’s one of the most troubling things about this,” Sillen commented.

Now Sillen and Bendiner are committed to reopening the business. A GoFundMe campaign to support the injured and partners has already surpassed $48,000. “We still don’t know what to do in the face of this cruel act of violence. In just five short months we had the privilege of becoming home to such a talented and vital community of artists. It breaks our hearts that anyone would seek to threaten that for any reason.”

In March 1990, an arson attack inside a bar in the Bronx left 87 people dead, most of them of Central American origin, in one of the largest mass crimes in U.S. history. Cuban refugee Julio Gonzalez was convicted in the case.