AP: Suspect's Friends Jolted by Gay Bar Attack

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Tom Dempsey

Feb 4, 2006, 11:25:26 AM2/4/06
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Suspect's Friends Jolted by Gay Bar Attack

By RAY HENRY, Associated Press Writer Fri Feb 3, 5:03 PM ET

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. - A teenager accused of going on a rampage at a gay
bar with a hatchet and a gun sometimes glorified Nazism and had a
swastika tattoo but never previously expressed any prejudice toward
gays, friends say.

Jacob Robida, 18, was wanted in Thursday's attack at Puzzles Lounge that
left three men wounded, one critically. He remained at large Friday.

Police have labeled the attack a hate crime and said Robida would be
charged with attempted murder, assault and civil rights violations.

Heather Volton, 22, of Fall River, said she has been friends with Robida
for more than a year. She said he had a swastika on his hand, but "the
kid never so much as raised his voice at me."

Another friend, Jennifer Crosby, 24, also of Fall River, identified
herself as "part black and a lesbian" and said Robida never expressed
any hostility toward gays.

Police officers went to Robida's home Thursday and spoke to his mother.
According court papers, she said Robida came home around 1 a.m.,
bleeding from the head, then left. In his bedroom, officers found Nazi
regalia and anti-Semitic writings on the wall.

A man who answered the door at Robida's mother's house Friday morning
ordered reporters off the property.

At least one of the wounded men remained hospitalized Friday. A second
was released, and hospital officials would not disclose the whereabouts
of the third victim.

Police said they were examining material Robida posted on his Internet
home page. The site is full of references to a rap group called Insane
Clown Posse, which is known for its explicit lyrics and sinister clown
makeup. The band's label, Psychopathic Records, has a logo depicting the
silhouette of a man wielding a hatchet.

Rep. Barney Frank (news, bio, voting record), an openly gay congressman
whose district includes New Bedford, said the community has a history of
tolerance. Frank pointed out that the city re-elected Gerry Studds in
the 1980s after he became the first member of Congress to publicly
announce he was gay.

"This is not some general problem with the people of New Bedford," Frank
said. "This is one disturbed 18-year-old."


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