A Brooklyn bar that was quickly becoming a mainstay for the LGBTQ+ community after being in business for just a few months is now closed after police said someone used a canister of gasoline to set it on fire.
Everything inside Bushwick's Rash Bar was left unrecognizable and torched, after it took just 30 seconds to turn the bar into a fireball. Around 9 p.m. on Sunday, a man dressed in black strolled into the bar with a gas canister, poured some on the ground and started the fire before dashing out.
There were three people inside working when the blaze broke out.
"I was standing right here actually when it happened, I had just stepped out,” said owner Claire Bendiner. "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."
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The 5-month-old space near Myrtle Avenue caters to the LGBTQ+ crowd, and is known for being packed late into the night. Nearly all of the damage was contained to the inside of the bar.
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 seriously burned: A DJ and another person who started working at Rash earlier that Sunday.
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."