A man who showed up to an LGBT+ bar with a rifle intent on shooting the patrons inside will serve less than four years in prison, but was not convicted of a hate crime.
Freddie Lee Doyle, 32, previously pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm, and has been held without bail for about 14 months.
According to Metro Weekly, Doyle drove to Rehab Bar & Grill in St Louis, Missouri on June 27, 2019, equipped with a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle, bipod, scope, tactical light, four full rifle magazines and about 160 rifle rounds.
When he arrived in his car, he approached a man who was leaving another LGBT+ venue. Doyle asked him to get into the vehicle, before grabbing a rifle and aiming it at him.
When the man fled, Doyle got out of the car and chased him, aiming the rifle at Rehab patrons and screaming obscenities and homophobic slurs. He then started a verbal countdown before firing the gun into the air.
Assistant US attorney Janea Lamar said police rushed to the scene after hearing the gunshot, but Doyle hid his gun and told them the shooter had run down an alley, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
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Police discovered the rifle a short time later and arrested Doyle. When the victims of the attempted shooting came to identify him, he began yelling homophobic slurs again.
In charging documents, FBI special agent Jennifer Drews wrote that Doyle said if he’d had more time, he would “have killed those faggots”.
Stephen Williams, defending, said that he had been under the influence of methamphetamine and had struggled with depression, anxiety and ADHD.
Chief judge Rodney Sippel, of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, sentenced Doyle 46 months in prison, less than four years.
Shockingly, the motive for Doyle’s crime was not discussed in court and was reported by the media as “unclear”, however prosecutors agreed to not charge him with a hate crime in exchange for his previous guilty plea.
Assistant attorney General Eric Dreiband, of the Department of Justice’s civil rights division, said in a statement after the sentencing: “All people in this nation have the right to enjoy themselves at a bar and grill without fearing that they will be threatened, shot, and seriously injured or killed by bigoted criminals.
“The Department of Justice will not tolerate this kind of hateful violence.
“The Civil Rights Division strives to protect all Americans from acts of aggression and violence based on their race, colour or sexual orientation.”