The owner of Rash Bar, an LGBTQ bar in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, said the suspect started the fire shortly before 9:30 p.m., sending patrons fleeing the establishment.
“All the people in the bar suddenly rushed out screaming. I looked behind me … and there were enormous flames up to the ceiling,” owner Claire Bendiner told Nexstar’s WPIX. “I was in disbelief.”
Footage released Wednesday by the New York City Police Department shows the suspect dumping fuel inside the bar while another person stands in the background, seemingly unaware. The suspect ignites the fuel with a lighter, sparking a violent blaze.
Police said two patrons, a 23-year-old woman and a 25-year-old woman, were injured in the fire. They sustained minor burns and were taken to a nearby hospital in stable condition.
The suspect is described as a man between the ages of 20 and 30. Police say he stands about 5-foot-9 inches and weighs about 180 pounds. It is unclear if police are investigating the attack as a hate crime.
“We’re not really sure what the motive was,” Bendiner said. “It is a queer bar, so maybe that had something to do with it or maybe it was a disgruntled customer. I’m not really sure.”
The fire caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, but the owners vowed to rebuild and reopen the bar.