The owners of a gay bar in Connecticut were beaten outside their venue by a man who is also said to have assaulted them with homophobic slurs.
Content warning: This story includes topics that could make some readers uncomfortable.
Casey Fitzpatrick and Nicholas Ruiz, who co-own Troupe429 in Norwalk, Connecticut, described the incident as a “hate crime” – something authorities have disputed.
“On the evening of Friday, September 23, 2022, Nicholas and I were violently attacked in front of our bar in what we believe was a hate crime,” Fitzpatrick wrote in a lengthy statement on the bar’s website.
“Unfortunately, we now believe that the violent assault is being mishandled by the Norwalk Police Department and the City of Norwalk. As of October 11, nearly two and a half weeks after the assault, no charges have been filed, nor has the suspect been arrested.”
Ruiz was left in need of over 50 stitches and $20,000 worth of plastic surgery because of what happened.
However, on 12 October, the Norwalk Police Department stated that they had arrested Carmen Everett Parisi in relation to the incident – though there is currently no evidence of an anti-LGBTQ+ motivation for what happened, NBC reported.
In a statement the same day, Lt. Terrence Blake, the aforementioned Department’s public information officer and LGBTQ+ liaison, said: “The arrest follows the Police Department’s warrant issued by a judge, after completing investigative steps of reviewing of video footage from inside the bar and attempting to get sworn statements from the two victims.
“Video footage from the body-worn, on-the-scene body cameras show no findings of any racial, religious, ethnic, or sexual orientation (RRES) language or indication of any anti-LGBTQ motivation associated with the assault.”
Fitzpatrick’s message on the Troupe429 website explained that a man at the bar “repeatedly harassed and made several female patrons and our staff uncomfortable,” on the evening of the attack, resulting in him “respectfully” being removed from the premises.
Ruiz eventually went outside to de-escalate the situation when the man refused to leave, resulting in the person allegedly insulting the establishment and using anti-LGBTQ+ slurs
This led to him becoming violent, which saw both Fitzpatrick and Ruiz physically assaulted.
“As owners of Troupe429, we are thankful that our staff and patrons were unharmed,” Fitzpatrick added in his message to customers. “However, we are deeply broken. The psychological harm that this assault has caused is significant and we demand justice.”
Both the couple and Norwalk Police Department confirmed that police responded to the incident on the night it happened.
Galop is an LGBTQ+ charity there for those who have experienced abuse or have been the victim of a hate crime. It can be contacted Monday to Friday from 10am-4pm on 0207 7042040 or at HateCrime@galop.org.uk. More information is available here.