A Missouri man has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for attempting to shoot patrons of an LGBTQ bar in St. Louis.
Chief Judge Rodney Sippel, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, sentenced Freddie Doyle, 32, to 46 months of imprisonment for unlawful possession of a firearm.
Doyle, who has been held without bail for about 14 months, previously pleaded guilty to driving to Rehab Bar & Grill, located in the LGBTQ neighborhood of St. Louis known as “The Grove,” on June 27, 2019, with a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle, bipod, scope, tactical light, four full rifle magazines, and approximately 160 rifle rounds in his car.
As the bar was closing around 3 a.m., Doyle approached an African-American man leaving the Just John Night Club, another LGBTQ bar in the area, and invited him to his car.
According to federal prosecutors, Doyle then grabbed his rifle and aimed it at the man, who fled.
Doyle aimed his rifle at the victim and others, yelling homophobic slurs and obscenities, and started a verbal countdown, firing a shot in the air when he had finished counting, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Police were nearby and heard the shot, but Doyle concealed the rifle and told officers that the gunman had run down an alley, Assistant U.S. Attorney Janea Lamar claimed in court.
Doyle was arrested shortly afterward, with police discovering the gun. Police claim Doyle became agitated when the victims of the shooting were brought over to identify him, and he began yelling homophobic slurs at them.
FBI Special Agent Jennifer Drews wrote in charging documents that he told police he would “have killed those faggots” if he had more time.
The motive for the shooting remains unclear, although prosecutors agreed not to charge Doyle with a hate crime as part of a plea agreement.
“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,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement in response to the sentencing.
“The Department of Justice will not tolerate this kind of hateful violence,” Dreiband said. “The Civil Rights Division strives to protect all Americans from acts of aggression and violence based on their race, color or sexual orientation.”
During sentencing, Doyle told Sippel that he had achieved the American Dream in 2014, as a husband and father with a house, cars, and a job he loved. But when he fell on hard times, he decided to fill the void with drugs.
Defense lawyer Stephen Williams said Doyle had been under the influence of methamphetamine for an extended period of time, and was struggling with depression, anxiety and ADHD at the time of the shooting.
“When you combine that with the drug use, it’s a wicked cocktail,” Williams told the court.
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