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Police have revealed close-up pictures of the man who threw bricks at VERS on 9th Avenue in a suspected hate crime spree against the LGBTQIA+ venue. The pictures show him in a bodega on Saturday night after the most recent of four attacks, casually buying a can of soda.
The man is still being hunted by police despite the clarity of the pictures and the initial security footage showing him throwing a brick at VERS. The four attacks, three in the past week, have shocked the bar’s owners and members of the community. The incidents are being investigated by the NYPD’s hate crimes unit. Police also shared a video of the attacker.
The man was seen on security camera footage throwing a brick at VERS on 9th Avenue at 9.59pm on Saturday night, then walking away towards W49th Street before turning back towards W48th Street. In the final seconds of the footage, he is seen to turn towards to another man outside VERS and point up the street, as if to suggest the perpetrator had gone towards W49th Street.
In newly-released footage, he is seen nonchalantly shopping in a bodega a couple of minutes after the attack, picking a can of soda out of a fridge and paying for it in cash. The man has short red hair, apparently has earrings in both ears, and had a baseball cap attached to his belt.
VERS owner David DeParolesa and his partner Aidan Davis said they could not be sure that it was the same attacker each time, but it was clear the attacks were attempts to “intimidate” the LGBTQIA+ community. DeParolesa had installed shatter-proof glass before the bar opened in July, precisely because of concerns about anti-gay attacks.
In a statement to W42ST he and Davis said: “This is the fourth time someone has thrown a brick at our window — the third time this week alone — and while we don’t know for certain it was the same person each time, we do know that there is a person or multiple people who have made it their mission to intimidate and attempt to harm our patrons.
“As members of the LGBTQ community, we often have to create our own safe spaces — and put systems in place to try and ensure that any bad actors are unsuccessful. That’s why we created VERS, and why we remain open for business. It’s also why we have windows made of shatterproof glass. It’s a sad reality that we have to take those steps, but it’s a reality nonetheless. We are undeterred and unflinchingly focused on continuing to provide our patrons, our peers and our community at large with a fun, welcoming and safe space.”
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The suspected serial attacker last struck on Saturday night, shortly before five men were murdered at an LGBTQIA+ bar in Colorado Springs by a mass shooter.
If you have information about the VERS attacks, contact the @NYPDHateCrimes unit at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-440-HATE.