by Megan Smith
Police are searching for two suspects who allegedly robbed and then shot a man to death outside of a popular Montrose LGBT bar early Thursday morning.
The victim, a 22-year-old man whose name has not yet been released, was found at 1:10 a.m. outside of FBar, located in the 200 block of Tuam near Helena. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
The victim was allegedly near his car in the FBar parking lot when he was approached by two gunmen who proceeded to rob him. After the victim reportedly tried to fight the men off, they fatally shot him.
Although police investigators are unsure of what led to the shooting, they report it may have involved a carjacking.
A female friend of the victim—who was in the car at time—managed to escape and ran inside to alert the management and patrons to the situation. FBar’s owner Irwin Palchick then called for help. “When the woman approached our employees, we immediately called 911,″ Palchick told media at the scene. Palchick said that the robbery and shooting occurred in an area with no security cameras, but told the media that the bar has over 20 on site.
A few minutes after the FBar incident, another male victim was found slumped over in a pickup truck in the 2600 block of Milam. That victim, whose name has also not been released, suffered a gunshot wound and was taken to Ben Tuab General Hospital. He is currently in critical condition. Police have not yet confirmed if the two incidents are related.
Detectives believe the suspects to be two black males, about 20 to 25 years old, around five feet six inches tall, and weighing about 150 to 160 pounds, according to KHOU. One suspect was reported to be wearing a dark-colored sweater with baggy pants and a red and black skull cap. The other was wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt and shorts. They are said to have fled the scene in a black 2005 Ford 500 sedan with the license plate CWR1480.
Because these crimes took place in close proximity to the city’s historically gay neighborhood, activists are questioning whether they are connected to other recent incidents that the LGBT community has deemed to be hate crimes.
Less than a month ago, openly gay Houstonian John Gaspari was allegedly robbed and shot on the corner of Genesee and Cleveland while walking home from Meteor, another Montrose LGBT bar. Gaspari spent nearly two weeks in the hospital recovering from the incident, according to KHOU.
“I’m very upset,” Council Member Ellen Cohen, whose district includes Montrose, told OutSmart. “I’ve been in touch with Captain Bennett who is with [HPD’s] Central Division and he is very concerned and they are on it. We can’t be sure until homicide concludes their investigation as to whether this was a random crime or a hate crime. It’s just a shame that these types of crimes occur. It’s just terrible.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 2:43 p.m. on March 12, 2015 to include Council Member Ellen Cohen’s quote.