Police have arrested a man accused of repeatedly throwing bricks through the window of a Manhattan gay bar.
Sean Kuilan, a 34-year-old Hell’s Kitchen resident, was taken into custody Tuesday on charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, and criminal possession of a weapon. Police said that Kuilan threw a brick or a rock at the window of VERS, a gay bar on 9th Avenue, on three separate occasions since last Sunday.
The most recent attack came around 10 p.m. on Saturday night. Security footage showed an individual approaching the bar, throwing what the NYPD said was a heavy rock in full view of several pedestrians, then casually walking off.
David DeParolesa, the VERS owner, said he believed his bar may have been targeted by an anti-gay perpetrator. But he told Gothamist on Sunday that police were “dismissive” of the suggestion – urging him against reporting it as a hate crime.
The owner posted a statement on Instagram in the aftermath of Tuesday’s arrest.
“As members of the LGBTQ community, we often have to create our own safe spaces; that’s why we created VERS, and why we remain open for business as usual,” the statement said. “We have, and always will be, undeterred and unflinchingly focused on providing our patrons, our peers and our community at large with a fun, welcoming safe space.”
City Councilmember Erik Bottcher, who represents the neighborhood and is gay, described the attacks as disturbing, drawing a link to the mass shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado over the weekend.
“What we’re seeing in New York City and around the country is a direct result of the hateful rhetoric on the internet and cable television,” he said. “You’ve got someone clearly targeting this establishment repeatedly with the intention of striking fear into our community.”
Attempts to reach an attorney for Kuilan were not successful.