Dec. 31, 2013: About 750 people were celebrating New Year’s Eve at a popular gay nightclub in Seattle when Musab Mohammed Masmari poured gasoline on a carpeted stairway and set it ablaze. No one was injured. Masmari was arrested a month later as he prepared to leave the country. He apologized in a statement to the court and said he didn’t remember his actions because he blacked out after drinking a bottle of cheap whiskey. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for arson.
March 1, 2009: Three men threw rocks into a gay bar in Galveston, Texas, injuring two male patrons. Brothers Lawrence Lewis III, 20 and Lawrneil Lewis, 18, along with their cousin Sam Gray, 17, were charged with a hate crime for throwing the rocks, which were apparently being used as doorstops, into Robert’s Lafitte bar.
Sept 22, 2000: Ronald Gay walked into the Backstreet Cafe, a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia, and opened fire, killing one man and wounding six other patrons, two of them seriously. Gay, a 55-year-old drifter who told police he was upset over the slang connotation of his last name, pleaded guilty to the murder of 43-year-old Danny Overstreet and was sentenced to four life terms.
Oct. 7, 1998: Gay college student Matthew Shepard was beaten into a coma while tied to a fence outside the small college town of Laramie, Wyoming. McKinney and Henderson met Shepard in a the Fireside Lodge a local Laramie, WY straight bar. He never regained consciousness and died five days after the attack. His attackers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, claimed their motive was robbery to get money for drugs and not a hate crime. The crime spurred debate on the effectiveness of hate crime laws. McKinney and Henderson are serving life sentences for murder.
Feb. 21, 1997: A nail-laden device exploded in a back room of the Otherside Lounge, a nightclub in Atlanta with a mostly gay and lesbian clientele. The lounge was crowded with about 150 people when the device went off on a rear patio. Five people were wounded. Eric Rudolph was later convicted for the bombing as well as bombings at Centennial Olympic Park and abortion clinics in suburban Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama. The 1996 Olympics bombing killed one person and wounded 111, and the Birmingham bombing killed a police officer and maimed a nurse. Rudolph is serving four life sentences in federal prison.
April 28, 1990: A homemade pipe bomb explodes in a popular gay bar Uncle Charlie’s Downtown located at 56 Greenwich Avenue, NYC. There were no fatalities and just minor injuries. In 1995 it was discovered that that an extremist radical Muslim terrorist ring was actually responsible for the pipe bomb
Nov 19, 1980: Former New York City transit cop Ronald Crumpley goes on a shooting rampage in front of the popular leather bar The Ramrod (394 West St., between 10th and Christopher Sts.) in Greenich Village using a sub machine gun killing two and wounding six. He is later found ”not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect”
June 24, 1973: The Upstairs Lounge fire in New Orleans’ French Quarter killed 32 people. Most of those killed were trapped by burglar bars on three front windows. the fire started with lighter fluid being sprayed and then lit on the wooden stairway to the crowded second-floor lounge trapping all within. The arsonist was never caught and to this day the exact reason the fire was lit has never been found out.