February 3rd, 2006

Manhunt on for gay bar attacker

A massive police manhunt was under way last night for a hatchet-wielding teenager accused of launching a bloody attack at a New Bedford gay bar that badly wounded three patrons and left a community reeling from the vicious hate crime, authorities said. Jacob D. Robida, 18, is wanted for an attack at the Puzzles Lounge gay bar early yesterday morning, in which he allegedly smashed two patrons in the face with a hatchet, then blasted three men with gunshots as frantic customers raced to subdue him with pool cues.
“It was total panic,” said bartender Phillip Daggett, 26, adding that Robida’s rage left him a bullet from death: “He was shooting to kill. He had this stone-cold look on his face,” Daggett said. “He then turned around and pointed the gun at me. All I heard was ‘click.’ ”
Police said a search of Robida’s home turned up Nazi regalia in his bedroom and anti-Semitic writings on the wall. District Attorney Paul Walsh is viewing the attack as a hate crime. “I can’t see any other motivation at this point,” he said.
The three victims — Robert Perry of Dartmouth, Alex Taylor of Fairhaven and Luis Rosado of New Bedford — suffered several facial lacerations and gunshot wounds, witnesses and authorities said. One of the men is in critical condition; the conditions of the other two were unclear last night.
Police are putting together details of the attack. It began soon after Robida allegedly flashed a fake ID inside the pink-walled pub — festooned with photos of drag queens and Marilyn Monroe — and asked, “Is this the gay bar?”
Daggett said Robida, dressed all in black, slid a $10 bill across the copper bar and ordered a Captain Morgan rum on ice. “I knew right away something wasn’t right. I felt a weird energy,” Daggett said. Minutes later, after ordering a second drink, Robida went to the back of the room where patrons were playing pool and coldly launched his attack as Alex Taylor’s back was turned, he said. Rodiba allegedly pulled a hatchet from the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt and plunged it into Taylor’s shoulder. He then held him down and delivered a second blow to the head, he said.
Another pool player intervened, hitting Robida with his pool cue, but Robida snatched the stick and used it to swing at patrons as Robert Perry tried to intervene to stop the frantic assault, Daggett said.
Daggett said Robida hit Perry in the back and face with the hatchet as the 18 or so people in the bar screamed while a Mariah Carey song played. As patrons tackled Robida, he said, Robida reached for a 9mm gun and blasted a single shot into the ceiling.
Daggett said Robida then trained the gun on Taylor, shooting him in the cheek as he lay on the black-and-white tile floor. Robida then shot Perry twice in the head and pumped a slug into Luis Rosado’s abdomen as the mentally disabled man walked out of the bathroom, according to Daggett.
The gun empty, Robida fled, witnesses said. Scrawled on the vinyl siding outside the bar was an anti-Semitic symbol that looked like a pitchfork pointing at a Star of David. It was believed to have been left by the suspect. Police recovered a 10-inch machete and hatchet at the bar, and say the suspect took the gun with him.
“We fear he could continue his rage at another gay bar,” New Bedford Police Capt. Richard Spirlet told the Herald. “It’s quite apparent he was picking his targets . . . because they were gay.”