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Gay Bar Owners Demand Hate Crimes Charges For Suspect in Brutal Attack

Troupe429 Bar Assault

Despite injuring one of the Connecticut bar's owners and allegedly hurling anti-LGBTQ+ slurs at people, the assailant hasn't been charged with a hate crime.

A violent attack on the owners of a gay bar in Connecticut resulted in one man needing dozens of stitches on his face, both victims being shaken up, and the local police department coming under scrutiny.

Police in Norwalk arrested Carmen Parisi on Wednesday, alleging that he committed an assault at the gar bar Troupe429. The following day, he appeared in court, and prosecutors accused him of spouting homophobic slurs in addition to punching the victims in the September 23 incident, Connecticut's local NBC station WVIT reports.

Although police have so far declined to consider the attack a hate crime, the victims' attorney is confident that the assault will be reclassified as one.

"We believe that once all of this comes to light, it will be evident that this was a hate crime," said attorney Stephanie Stich, noting one of her clients was hit in the face, and the other was punched in the throat by Parisi.

Parisi's lawyer disputes that version of events, alleging that bar staff attacked their client after escorting him out.

Parisi's arrest came after the bar's owners alleged that Norwalk police were not taking the assault seriously because they failed to investigate the attack as a hate crime.

According to Norwalk police, who characterized it as an "isolated" altercation between intoxicated patrons and the owners, The Hourreports, it was not initially investigated as a hate crime.

Lt. Terry Blake of Norwalk Police told the outlet that officers responded to the incident at Troupe 429. Blake said that the patron assaulted someone after management asked him to leave. In the subsequent brawl, the patron was also injured.

The assailant entered Troupe429 during a drag show and "repeatedly harassed and made several female patrons and our staff uncomfortable," and " made disparaging statements about the bar and the people inside it" using "derogatory and anti-LGBTQ words," according to a post on the bar's website attributed to Casey Fitzpatrick, who owns the bar with his husband, Nicholas Ruiz.

According to Fitzpatrick, the man assaulted Ruiz while they were escorting him out. An image of Ruiz on the bar's website shows him lying in a hospital bed with a bloodied slash across his face.

There was no evidence of a hate crime, Blake said, which upset the victims.

According to WVIT, Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik acknowledged that miscommunication might have delayed the investigation.

"We want to do the right thing for everybody, so that's the message we are trying to get out is, yes. Did we make some mistakes communicating? Possibly, but our ultimate goal hasn't changed. We want to do a thorough investigation," Kulhawik told the NBC affiliate.

According to the victims' attorney on WVIT, police will amend charges if there is evidence of a hate crime.

Parisi, who faces two counts of third-degree assault, was granted bail at $200,000.

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