At a time when safe nightlife spaces for the LGBTQ community are finally starting to come alive again after an extended pause, someone attempted to strike out against one of these places in New York City, in deadly fashion. On Sunday evening, someone attempted to set fire to one of Bushwick’s newest LGBTQ nightlife spaces, Rash. The Brooklyn club (known for it’s cool, jazz club aesthetic and weekend dance parties) was starting their Sunday evening party when (according the the bar’s Instagram page) “someone came into our bar, poured gasoline on the floor causing an explosion that set the bar in flames. He was wearing a dark hoodie and a backpack and immediately ran from the scene”. (Surveillance video below captures the exact moment the alleged perpetrator set the bar ablaze).
Twenty-five year old bartender Tyler Glenn was coming from the Rash basement as the venue was filling with smoke. Glenn suffered second-degree burns in the fire and told Gothamist that initially, he thought the thick air was the result of a fog machine. “Then I realized I couldn’t breathe, The whole thing was in flames. I was banging on the walls and I couldn’t find the door and I could feel myself about to pass out.” Glenn suffered second degree burns on his face and lips and was still hospitalized as of Tuesday. The DJ that was due to play that night also sustained minor injuries and was hospitalized.
Rash co-owner Claire Bendiner told WNBC that she had just stepped out of the venue as panic ensued. “Everyone rushed out. The side door has a glass front and I looked over and saw flames to the top of the ceiling. It was crazy, it happened so fast.” She also indicated that the alleged arsonist left behind crucial evidence-the gas canister used to possibly ignite the blaze. While NBC reported that police are reviewing surveillance tapes from a gas station around the corner that show someone filling a gas station moments before the blaze was ignited, but Bendiner simply remains incredulous as to why someone would do this. “I have no idea” she told WNBC. “It’s kind of hard to get into the mindset of someone who would do this”.
The NYPD told The Advocate in a statement “It was reported to police that an unknown individual entered the location with a bottle of flammable liquid, poured it on the floor, lit a match and threw it on the fluid causing a fire to ignite and fled” The investigation remains ongoing and no arrests have been made, with the official cause of the fire still being investigated.
You can find the GoFundMe for Rash Bar here
Follow Rash Bar on Instagram