Police in Norwalk, Connecticut have arrested a man accused of severely beating a gay couple outside the gay bar they jointly own last month.
Casey Fitzpatrick and her husband, Nicholas Ruiz, owners of Troupe429, said in a post on the bar’s website that the man entered the bar during a drag show and “repeatedly harassed and put several customers and our uncomfortable staff”. The man was escorted out by security, but refused to leave the bar entrance.
Ruiz went to the front door to defuse the situation, at which point, Fitzpatrick says, the man made derogatory statements about the bar and the people inside, using derogatory language and anti- LGBTQ. The suspect then became violent, punching Ruiz, scratching his chest, tearing the necklace from the cross and tearing his clothes. Fitzpatrick held him off while Ruiz called 911.
The man then calmed down and Fitzpatrick loosened his grip, at which point the man attacked him. When Ruiz came to Fitzpatrick’s defense, the suspect then turned his rage on Ruiz, leaving a large, deep gash on the right side of his cheek. Ruiz was later treated for his injuries at a local hospital, receiving 50 stitches to his face and $20,000 in plastic surgery.
On Oct. 12, the Norwalk Police Department announced the arrest of a suspect, Carmen Everett Parisi, but said they found no evidence the assault was fueled by anti-LGBTQ bias, according to NBC News.
“Video footage from body-worn and scene-worn body cameras shows no findings of racial, religious, ethnic or sexual orientation language or any indication of anti-LGBTQ motivation associated with the assault,” the report said. Lt. Terrence Blake, the department’s public information officer, said in a statement.
Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik told the Stamford lawyer that the police department has been inundated with messages demanding justice since the couple posted the update on the bar association’s website, but said the department had tried to obtain sworn statements from the victims, who they say department, did not show up for their appointments.
But Fitzpatrick and Ruiz deny that claim, saying they cooperated with law enforcement and never missed a date. Kulhawik later admitted that the investigation was delayed by miscommunication, explaining the period of more than two weeks that elapsed between the incident and Parisi’s arrest.
The attack follows recent stories involving altercations in or outside gay bars in other cities. In August, a man was arrested and charged with meeting a group of people with a car during a hit-and-run outside a popular gay bar on Chicago’s South Side. In Florida the same month, a man reportedly brought an inactive grenade to a gay bar in Wilton Manors and had to be disarmed by a quick-witted employee.
Stephanie Stich, an attorney representing Fitzpatrick and Ruiz, continues to argue that the assault was motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias.
Defense attorney David Marantz, who represents Parisi, claims his client was escorted out of the bar and assaulted without provocation.
“He says while he was outside with the bar owner he was rushed by the bar staff and they started choking him and then he was released and he ran away and he was chased “, Marantz told NBC News.
On Wednesday, Parisi was charged with two counts of third-degree assault, with the judge setting bail at $200,000.
Police are asking anyone with additional information about the attack to call the police department at (203) 854-3111.