HELL’S KITCHEN, Manhattan (PIX11) — A gay bar has been vandalized four times in the last month, with three of those incidents in the last week alone.
Each incident involved an object being thrown in an attempt to break the window. The latest incident happened Saturday evening.
Surveillance video shows an unidentified suspect approach the storefront of VERS in Hell’s Kitchen and hurl a brick at the window, startling diners in the restaurant next door as well as patrons inside of VERS. While it splintered the glass, it did not break it because the glass is shatterproof.
Owner David DeParolesa said he installed the shatterproof glass given anti-gay sentiment.
“It’s not just now in New York, it’s always the gay community that has had to protect itself. I thought about the Pulse nightclub shooting when we opened,” said DeParolesa. “We’re certainly worried about active shooters and protecting our storefront and the laminated glass protects us from who knows what.”
Thankfully, no patrons or employees were hurt. The NYPD says there is no clear surveillance footage of the prior incidents for them to connect the same suspect to each incident. Monday evening, they released additional video of the suspect in Saturday evening’s attack, taken while the suspect was in a nearby store. Police have officially classified this as a hate crime.
“We want to assure people we’re responding as a bar, as a community space, that we are safe,” said DeParolesa.
VERS only opened several months ago and has become popular for its piano bar and other live entertainment.
This weekend’s attack happened on the same night as the horrific mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing five and injuring dozens more. The LGBTQ+ community is angered and saddened by the continued attacks.
“The gay community comes together when trauma happens,” said DeParolesa. “You hit one of us, you hit all of us, that’s happening here and it’s happening in response to the Colorado shooting.”