Police have released surveillance footage showing the moments an alleged arsonist poured gasoline and sparked a raging fire at a popular Brooklyn bar.
Around 9 p.m. on Sunday, a man dressed in black strolled into Rash Bar — a 5-month-old club near Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick that caters to the LGBTQ+ crowd — with a gas canister. Video shows the man pour some gasoline on the ground before taking a lighter to it.
That igniting a huge fireball instantaneously, and the fire spread from there. It took just 30 seconds for the bar to be torched, leaving everything inside unrecognizable and charred.
There were three people working at the bar when the blaze broke out. Nearly all of the damage was contained to the inside of the bar.
"I was standing right here actually when it happened, I had just stepped out,” said Claire Bendiner, who owns the bar that was quickly becoming a mainstay for the LGBTQ+ community. "Everyone rushed out. The side door has a glass front and I looked over and saw flames to the top of ceiling. It was crazy, it happened so fast."
Bendiner said that the alleged arsonist boldly left behind a key piece of evidence.
"He left the gas canister inside. Kind of calmly placed it on the bar counter. Wasn’t knocked over or anything," she said.
Police are reviewing surveillance from a gas station around the corner that showed someone filling up a gas can minutes before the fire. The flames and smoke from that night also invaded two apartments above the bar, but everyone was able to make it out.
Another co-owner told NBC New York that the suspect was last seen running down Myrtle Avenue towards Charles Place.
Since the blaze, the bar's owners have been discussing what happened online, questioning if the alleged arson was fueled by hate. Police have not yet said anything about it being hate-related.
The bar has posted an online fundraising campaign to help rebuild and care for two employees who were treated for burns: A DJ and another person who started working at Rash earlier that day.
The owners mostly want to know: Why this bar?
"We’ve been trying to figure it out but we don’t know the motive possible hate crime," said Bendiner. "This a queer bar. Maybe a disgruntled customer. I have no idea. Hard to get into the mindset of someone who would do this."