Shooting at gay bar injures three people

By Ray Henry The Associated Press

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – A young man dressed all in black went on a rampage at a gay bar with a hatchet and a gun yesterday, wounding three patrons in what police said appeared to be a hate crime.

One victim was in critical condition with head wounds.

Police searched for 18-year-old Jacob D. Robida, who was wanted on charges of attempted murder, assault and civil-rights violations.

According to court papers, Robida’s mother told police he briefly stopped by the house less than an hour after the brawl and was bleeding from the head. In Robida’s bedroom, officers found Nazi regalia and anti-Semitic writings on the wall.

“Obviously we have a man who’s dangerous, who’s not rational, and he has weapons,” said prosecutor Paul Walsh Jr.

A bartender said it was around midnight when a teen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants walked into Puzzles Lounge, a gay nightspot in this historic seaport city of 94,000 people, about 50 miles from Boston.

He flashed an apparently fake ID and ordered a drink, then asked if the place was a gay bar and was told it was, said the bartender, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Phillip, because of fear for his safety.

The bartender said the teen finished his drink and walked back to where two men were playing pool. He shoved one of them to the ground, then pulled a hatchet from his sweatshirt and began swinging at the man’s head, cutting him, Phillip said.

Other patrons tackled the man, sending the hatchet sliding across the floor, the bartender said. Then the attacker pulled a gun, shot a man, and then fired another bullet into the chest of a patron leaving the bathroom.

He then ran off into the night.

Police recovered the hatchet and found a knife outside. The knife was not apparently used in the attack.

According to court papers, a woman in the bar recognized Robida as a current or former student at New Bedford High School. School officials wouldn’t confirm whether he was enrolled there.

Robida graduated in 2001 from the city’s Junior Police Academy, a “boot camp” that teaches discipline to 12- to 14-year-olds, many of whom are referred by juvenile courts or social services agencies, Acting Police Chief David Provencher said.

Police identified the injured men as Robert Perry, Alex Taylor and Luis Rosado but would not say which one suffered the head wounds. The two other men were shot; their conditions were not released.

A family friend who answered the door at Robida’s home said his mother had

no comment.

The owner of the bar, Richard F. Macedo, said he planned to be open on Thursday night because closing would amount to giving in to homophobia.