Metro Weekly

Man Charged in Attack on Couple Outside Connecticut Gay Bar

One of the co-owners of Norwalk gay bar Troupe429 was beaten so severely that he had to receive 50 stitches and plastic surgery.

gay bar, Troupe429, gay couple
Nicholas Ruiz and Casey Fitzpatrick – Photo: Troupe429.

Police in Norwalk, Connecticut have arrested a man accused of severely beating a gay couple outside the gay bar they jointly own last month.

Casey Fitzpatrick and his husband, Nicholas Ruiz, the owners of Troupe429, said in a post on the bar’s website that the man came into the bar during a drag show and “repeatedly harassed and made several female patrons and our staff uncomfortable.” The man was escorted out be security, but would not leave the bar’s entryway.

Ruiz went to the front door to de-escalate the situation, at which point, Fitzpatrick says, the man made disparaging statements about the bar and the people inside it, using derogatory language and anti-LGBTQ slurs. The suspect then turned violent, punching Ruiz, clawing at his chest, tearing the cross necklace, and ripping his clothes. Fitzpatrick restrained him while Ruiz called 911.

The man then calmed down, and Fitzpatrick loosened his grip, at which point the man attacked him. When Ruiz came to Fitzpatrick’s defense, the suspect then turned his rage back toward Ruiz, leaving a large, deep gash on the right side of his cheek. Ruiz was later treated for his injuries at a local hospital, receiving 50 stitches across his face and 20,000 dollars’ worth of plastic surgery.

On Oct. 12, the Norwalk Police Department announced the arrest of a suspect, Carmen Everett Parisi, but said they found no evidence that the assault was fueled by anti-LGBTQ bias, according to NBC News.

“Video footage from the body-worn, on-the-scene body cameras show no findings of any racial, religious, ethnic, or sexual orientation language or indication of any anti-LGBTQ motivation associated with the assault,” Lt. Terrence Blake, the department’s public information officer, said in a statement. 

Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik told the Stamford Advocate that the police department has been inundated with messages demanding justice since the couple posted the update to the bar’s website, but said the department had attempted obtain sworn statements from the victims, whom the department claims failed to show up for their appointments.

But Fitzpatrick and Ruiz reject that assertion, saying they had cooperated with law enforcement and had never missed an appointment. Kulhawik later admitted that the investigation was delayed by a miscommunication, explaining the more than two-week-long period that passed between the incident and Parisi’s arrest.

The attack comes on the heels of recent stories involving altercations at or outside gay bars in other cities. In August, a man was arrested and charged with allegedly running into a group of people with a car in a hit-and-run incident outside a popular gay bar on Chicago’s South Side. In Florida that same month, a man reportedly brought an inactive grenade inside a gay bar in Wilton Manors, and had to be disarmed by a quick-thinking employee. 

Stephanie Stich, an attorney representing Fitzpatrick and Ruiz, continues to maintain that the assault was motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias. 

Defense attorney David Marantz, who represents Parisi, claims that his client was escorted out of the bar and attacked without provocation.

“He says that while outside with the bar owner, he was rushed by staff at the bar and they began choking him and then he was let go and he got away and he was chased,” Marantz told NBC News.

On Wednesday, Parisi was charged with two counts of assault in the third degree, with the judge setting bail at $200,000.

Police are asking anyone with additional information about the attack to call the police department at (203) 854-3111.

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