A gay couple were beaten and bloodied in front of the Connecticut gay bar they own. Both men say the incident was a hate crime, but local authorities disagree.
In a statement shared Tuesday, Casey Fitzpatrick said he and her husband, Nicholas Ruiz — the owners of Troupe429 in Norwalk, Connecticut — were violently attacked by a male bar patron who also berated them with anti-LGBTQ slurs. The incident, which happened in mid-September, resulted in Ruiz being sent to the hospital and requiring more than 50 stitches across his face and $20,000 worth of plastic surgery, Fitzpatrick said in the statement, published Tuesday on the bar’s website.
Fitzpatrick said the attack was a hate crime and that the incident was “being mishandled” by the Norwalk Police Department.
“As of October 11, nearly two and a half weeks after the attack, no charges have been filed, and the suspect has not been arrested,” Fitzpatrick wrote. “We ask for your help and support in seeking justice for Nicholas.”
The Norwalk Police Department announced Wednesday that they had arrested the suspect, Carmen Everett Parisi, earlier that day and said in a statement to NBC News that they found no evidence that the attack was motivated by anti-Semitism. LGBTQ.
“The arrest follows a Police Department warrant issued by a judge, after completing investigative steps of reviewing video footage from inside the bar and attempting to obtain sworn statements from the two victims,” Lt. Terrence Blake, the Norwalk Police Department’s public information officer and LGBTQ liaison, said in a statement Wednesday. “Video footage from body worn cameras does not show any perceptions of any racial, religious, ethnic or sexual orientation (RRES) language or indication of any anti-LGBTQ motivation associated with the attack.”
On the night of the attack, a male patron “repeatedly harassed and made several female patrons and our staff uncomfortable,” prompting staff to “respectfully” escort the man out of the venue, according to Fitzpatrick’s statement .
When the man would not leave the bar’s entrance, Fitzpatrick said, Ruiz went outside to de-escalate the situation and “peacefully” begged the man to leave the area. The man then made derogatory comments about the bar and the people inside it using anti-LGBTQ slurs, Fitzpatrick reported.
The man then became violent, repeatedly punching the right side of Ruiz’s face and clawing at his chest, causing his clothes to rip and a necklace to be ripped from his neck, Fitzpatrick wrote. The suspect also punched Fitzpatrick in the neck, closing off his airway, Fitzpatrick added.
The statement was coupled with a graphic image of Ruiz on the night of the incident. Ruiz can be seen lying on a hospital bed with his cheek ripped open and blood rushing down his body.
“As the owners of Troupe429, we are grateful that our staff and patrons are unharmed,” Fitzpatrick wrote. “However, we are deeply hurt. The psychological damage this attack has caused is significant and we demand justice.”
The Norwalk and Fitzpatrick Police Department confirmed that police responded to the incident the night of the attack.
But in the weeks since, Fitzpatrick said he and Ruiz have received “no updates” despite Fitzpatrick’s repeated emails, calls and visits to the department.
The Norwalk Police Department said in a statement to NBC News that it is trying to obtain sworn statements from the victims, “who did not show up for their appointments.”
Fitzpatrick and Ruiz did not respond to NBC News’ multiple requests for comment Wednesday.
The Norwalk incident is the latest in a series of violent threats and attacks against LGBTQ people across the country this year.
At least three LGBTQ events were targeted by white nationalist groups in June – designated LGBTQ Pride Month – and in April, a man walked into a bar in New York City with a bottle of flammable liquid, and poured it on the floor of the bar , lit a match and set the scene on fire, police said.
Over 1,300 hate-based incidents against Americans were motivated by their sexual orientation or gender identity in 2020, accounting for 16% of all biased encounters that year, according to the FBI’s latest hate crime data.
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