Surveillance footage captured the terrifying moment an unidentified arsonist poured gasoline on the floor of an LGBTQ bar in Brooklyn, setting the establishment ablaze and injuring two staff members.
Police are continuing to search for the man, who was captured on security footage entering Rash Bar in Bushwick and starting the blaze before fleeing on Sunday.
The fire caused significant damage to the packed bar and injured two female employees, a bartender and a DJ, who were both taken to a local hospital with minor burns.
One owner of the bar, which just opened its doors last October, said they would be forced to ‘start fresh’ after the disturbing incident – but vowed to reopen ‘no matter how long it takes us.’
Police have still not captured the arson suspect, described as a man in his twenties, five foot nine and around 180 pounds who was last seen wearing a dark hoodie and a backpack at the time of the alleged crime.
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Police are searching for an unidentified man who was captured entering LGBTQ bar Rash Bar in Bushwick, pouring gasoline on the floor and lighting a fire
A bouncer told the bar co-owner that once security approached the suspect he lit the fuel
The suspect was caught lighting the fuel he poured on the floor, causing an explosion that led to an evacuation of the Brooklyn bar
Jake Sillen, the co-owner of the bar told the New York Daily News that the arsonist was confronted by a bar worker when he was caught pouring the gasoline but he claimed he was cleaning the floor.
Once security approached the suspect he lit the fuel, causing an explosion in the bar room, a bouncer told the 26-year-old.
In order to flee the suspect himself had to run through the flames, Sillen added.
A look inside the bar following the fire. Only two staffers were injured in the blaze, suffering minor burns
The bar’s co-owners said the damage is so extensive they will have to start over with the bar they opened just last October
The bar owners added that police still do not have a lead on the suspect or their motives for setting the establishment on fire, damaging it extensively
The owners of the bar say they have been left in shock by the purposefully lit blaze
The owners of the bar say they have been left in shock by the purposefully lit blaze.
‘We still don’t know what to make of this cruel act of violence,’ a GoFundMe for the bar which has raised over $50,000 said. ‘In only five short months we were privileged to become home to such a talented and vital community of artists. It breaks our hearts that anyone would seek to threaten that for any reason.’
The bar owners added that police still do not have a lead on the suspect or their motives.
‘At this time we haven’t identified the suspect or any motives but we’re working closely with the authorities to investigate. If anyone has any information that might be useful in the investigation, please share it with us directly,’ they posted.
But Sillen also said he suspects it could have been a hate crime.
The fire caused significant damage to the packed bar and injured two female employees, a bartender and a DJ, who were both taken to a local hospital
‘We still don’t know what to make of this cruel act of violence,’ a GoFundMe for the bar which has raised over $50,000 said
‘We don’t want to jump to any conclusions,’ Sillen said. ‘But we’re also definitely considering the fact you know, in the last year there’s been like a pretty sharp rise in violence within queer nightlife, and so we’re definitely feeling that loss right now.’
Sillen and their co-owner Claire Bendiner, 32, said the damage is so extensive they will have to start over with the bar they opened just last October.
‘Very little of it will be salvageable, we’ll have to start fresh,’ Sillen told the New York Post. ‘We spent the last year putting all of our time and energy and heart into this place and we were really proud of what it was becoming. It was only just getting on its legs.’
But the owners were committed to reopening the bar with the help of the community.
‘We’re going to reopen no matter how long it takes us,’ Sillen said. ‘Pretty much everyone in the area has been working on a fundraiser for us. It’s been amazing.’