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Four LGBTQ+ bars targeted in mysterious drive-by shootings

Threat of firearms. Muzzle of gun in man's hand is pointed at camera. Male criminal holds revolver on black background. Attack or defense.
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Four LGBTQ+ bars in San Diego, California have been victims of a drive-by pellet gun shooting. Police are still hunting for the unknown assailants and questioning their motives.

At least three individuals were hit by the rounds, and one individual was hospitalized. The targeted establishments include The Rail Bar, Rich’s Nightclub, Number 1 Fifth Ave, and Pec’s, KFMB-TV reported.

Eddie Reynoso, a host at Rich’s Nightclub, said, “I get hit directly in the eye. I feel something kinda like explode, almost like something popped. And by then I was already falling to the ground. In my mind, I thought I just got shot through the eye and my eye just flew out.”

“I’m fortunate. A millimeter or two (away) could have led to blindness. If it would have hit the pupil, it would be a different story today,” said Reynoso.

Rich’s has allegedly been targeted by similar crimes in the past.

Police have not said whether they believe this was motivated by anti-LGBTQ sentiment. However, all the targeted businesses are known LGBTQ+ hotspots. One patron of The Rail Bar said the attack that violated the LGBTQ+ safe space.

“This is obviously a safe space,” said Izan Carso. “So the fact that people can just come in from outside and sort of make it feel unsafe is just unfortunate.”

Not much is known about who committed the crime. Witnesses said the vehicle fired its shots around 1 a.m. and someone inside the vehicle may have possibly recorded the incident.

“They were driving by pretty fast, but they also slowed down. I saw two people hanging out the window, it appeared as if one of them may have been recording,” Reynoso said. 

“That’s kind of what caught my attention and when I looked at the backseat, I just saw someone holding an automatic gun and my reaction was to crouch, but by then, it was too late. They had already fired and you could hear the noise, a ‘pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,’” Reynoso said.

It is unknown whether the rounds were ball bearings or another sort of pellet.

Other bar patrons and employees reported being hit near the eye and on their arms. Many were relieved to be okay, but remained furious at what happened.

Reynoso said, “Something can go wrong really, really quickly, and it could have major effects on multiple people, on yourself, the individual you shot, but also on your family.”

Guns are used in nearly 60% of bias-motivated homicides against LGBTQ+ people, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects. LGBTQ+ people are more than twice as likely to be victims of gun violence than their cisgender and straight peers, according to the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data. LGBTQ+ people also experience person-based violence at higher rates than victims of religiously or racially motivated crimes, according to the Williams Institute.

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