A gay-owned restaurant in Chicago had a window shattered by a hammer-wielding man in a suspected homophobic attack last night.
Witnesses and police say a man was shouting antigay slurs at a couple in the city’s Rogers Park neighborhood afternoon and followed them into the R Public House in the 1500 block of West Jarvis Avenue. The man allegedly turned violent when fellow patrons stood up to the man and told him to leave.
“He walked in, started calling them some like antigay slurs, and they were like, ‘Just leave, man, just get out of here,’” bar employee Corey Rolon told local ABC affiliate WLS-TV. “And then he took out a hammer and started bashing everything.
Queer couple Sandra Carter and Renee Labrana said they had just left the restaurant around 5:30 p.m. when the man followed the couple into the restaurant they’ve owned for a decade. They told the Chicago Sun-Times that some patrons went running for the exits when the glass exploded.
“They weren’t sure if it was gunshots,” Renee Labrana told the paper. “And knowing the horrific hate crimes that have happened in different bars, it was scary.”
Last November, five people were killed and 19 injured when a gunman opened fire in the Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colo. The suspect in that shooting has been charged with more than 300 counts ranging from murder to assault.
Carter and Labrana told the Sun-Times they created R Public House as a safe and affirming space open to all, and that the attack was a reminder not everyone shares their inclusive vision.
“It’s very frustrating and disconcerting because we live in this neighborhood because it’s so diverse, and we love that about the neighborhood,” Labrana said. “So you tend to forget that there’s people that hate you out there just for who you love. And it makes me really angry that we even have to think about it.”