Man pleads guilty to setting LGBTQ+ bar on fire saying it’s ‘wrong we have queers in our society’
An arsonist who said it’s “wrong” that there are “a bunch of queers in our society” has admitted to setting fire to an LGBTQ+ venue in Washington, United States.
Kalvinn Garcia, 25, pleaded guilty on Thursday (26 May) to setting fire to Queer/Bar in Seattle on 24 February 2020, telling police that “I think it’s wrong that we have a bunch of queers in our society”.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) added that Garcia told a stranger he wanted to trap people inside the venue and injure them after he set it alight.
There were around 50 people in the bar at the time of the fire, but they were evacuated safely.
According to the DOJ: “The blaze scorched the brick exterior and forced the cancelation of events planned at the nightclub over subsequent days.
“The nightclub is across the alley from the Seattle Police East Precinct and the fire attracted immediate attention… Garcia tried to run from officers but was apprehended.”
Garcia now faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 (around £198,000) fine for starting the fire.
“The defendant targeted the patrons inside Queer/Bar, a known safe space for the LGBTQI+ community,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a DOJ press release.
“Hate crimes have no place in our society today and we stand ready to use our federal civil rights laws to hold perpetrators accountable.
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“All people deserve to feel safe and secure living in their communities, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
US attorney for the Western District of Washington, Nick Brown, added: “Garcia endangered countless people who he did not know and who were simply trying to live their lives, solely because of his own hatred.
“We must stand up to this hate at every opportunity, to demonstrate to our community that acting on hate will not be tolerated.”
Just months ago, two people at an LGBTQ+ bar in New York were injured when a suspected arsonist doused the floor in gasoline and set it on fire.
John Lhota, 24, has been arrested and charged with arson after allegedly setting fire to Rash nightclub in Brooklyn on 3 April.
Jake Sillen, who co-owns Rash with Claire Bendiner, told Pink News: “There were a few people inside, but luckily it was early enough in the night that the party hadn’t started and there wasn’t a huge crowd.”