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Arrest Made in Arson Attack on California Lesbian Bar

Arrest Made in Arson Attack on California Lesbian Bar

Gossip Grill Arson LGBTQ Bar Pub San Diego Footage Stills
Images: instagram: @gossipgrill_

The suspect is a former employee and the attack is not being investigated as a hate crime.

Police in California have arrested a man in connection with an arson attack on one of the last remaining lesbian bars in the country. The patio awnings in front of the Gossip Grill in San Diego were destroyed in a fire set late last week Video of the fire went viral on social media.

A suspect was identified by employees as a local man who once worked for the owner, reports LGBTQ San Diego County News.

The fires took place just before 12:30 a.m. on Friday, October 20.

SDC News reported there were two fires, the first engulfing the western patio awnings used for outdoor smoking and the second on the eastern patio used for non-smoking patrons. There were no reported injuries and officials estimate the damage at about $10,000.

“There was no structural damage to the actual building. It was all contained to the two front patios. Thanks to our amazing fire department and how quickly they got here,” Girton told public radio station KPBS.

Ryan Habrel, 38, was arrested later that day by officers of the San Diego Police Department and charged with arson. Police and the bar’s owner, Moe Girton, said they don’t believe the attack was a hate crime.

“Habrel was arrested and booked into jail for arson to a commercial structure and the use of an accelerant,” SPDP Lt. Adam T. Sharki said in a statement. “The investigation is ongoing and there is no indication at this time that this is hate-crime-related.”

“Gossip Grill is one of the last remaining Queer Women’s bars in the country,” Gossip Grill posted to social media before the arrest. “It breaks my heart knowing that someone intentionally tried to burn it down.”

Habrel was immediately identified by employees watching the videos as a former employee of URBAN Mo, another bar owned by Girton. The former bartender has been described as experiencing homelessness and suffering from mental health issues, but also polite and harmless.

Girton told SDC News she was shocked and distraught upon learning Habrel was suspected of the attack.

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