Marla R. Stevens

New Bedford Hate Crime Updates

Filed By Marla R. Stevens | February 04, 2006 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement
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Updated information from yesterday and today compiled from a number of sources on the attacks at Puzzles bar in New Bedford, MA, including new information from police asking for your help to find this criminal:

Robida was last seen driving a green 1999 Pontiac Grand Am with Massachusetts license plates 85E-C58. However, police have asked that all cars fitting that description that are parked where they wouldn't be expected - in a vacant lot unmoved for a day or two, newly appeared in a neighborhood, etc. - be called in for police ID, no matter what the license number. The police will go read the VIN # on the windshield. They asked that you not do this yourself lest the suspect be hiding in the car. Call your local police to ID vehicles matching the suspect's. Call local police and either of the New Bedford police tip numbers for the case for information about Robida (5-foot-6, about 200 pounds, with dark hair), his whereabouts, or the case itself: (508) 961-4584 or 508-991-6320.

UPDATE 2/3/06: The victims' (Robert Perry of Dartmouth, Alex Taylor of Fairhaven, and Luis Rosado of New Bedford) conditions have improved to serious but not life-threatening. Perry's sister (name not revealed due to suspect being still at-large), says he is a Boston-area EMT with four sons and "the nicest guy you ever wanted to meet."

Rosado is the fellow shot in the abdomen leaving the bathroom.

The earlier report of a facial shot to Perry, the first fellow attacked, was wrong. He was shot in the chest and also suffered severe head lacerations. The guy he was playing pool with suffered multiple severe lacerations from the hatchet.

The police now are saying Robida was "hunting gays" and that he ought to be considered "mentally unstable." As well as the anti-Semitic scrawlings found on his walls, there were homemade posters with antigay and racist (antiAfrican-American) themes, and the room was littered with neo-Nazi literature and skinhead paraphernalia; a makeshift coffin; and an empty knife sheath.

After asking the bartender if Puzzles was a gay bar, Robida asked another patron about gay bars in the area, was told there was a lesbian bar nearby, and replied, ''No, this is the one I want," according to court documents.
In his past, the officers at the Junior Police Academy couldn't remember anything about him. He was the subject in 2000 of a neglect complaint that was deemed unfounded.

There's concern from antiviolence experts that there's a growing national hostility toward gay people.

''Again and again we have seen that as efforts to marginalize or, in the case of Massachusetts, remarginalize our community escalate, sick and violent people take those efforts as license to step up violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people," said Clarence Patton, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs' acting director. ''It's been happening across the nation, as our community has come under increased political and rhetorical fire."

The prosecutor isn't quibbling: ''The attack seemed random. We have no evidence to believe he knew these people." He said there was no evidence that Robida was actively connected to organized hate groups. In other words, Robida's one of a growing number of the class of hate criminals known as 'lone wolves' - a type the police loathe because they're the most dangerous and unpredictable of hate criminals and that, once they begin killing, they tend not to stop on their own.

The bar is located in a mixed ethnic neighborhood of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Hondurans and people there expressed shock at the crimes, saying that the bar's patrons were welcome there and that neighborhood people had always gotten along with them.

New Bedford is in Rep. Barney Frank's district. He confirmed that the residents were generally not rabid 'phobes. He and Sen. Ted Kennedy said it was just one more "sad reminder" of the necessity to add sexual orientation to the federal hate crimes penalties law.

Robida is 5-foot-6, about 200 pounds, with dark hair. He was last seen driving a green 1999 Pontiac Grand Am with Massachusetts plates 85E-C58. If you have any information, call (508) 961-4584. Tips can be anonymous.

UPDATE 2/4/06: A tape of 911 calls released yesterday captured the chaos, with an unidentified woman screaming, ''Oh my God, someone get me a towel!" trying to administer first aid to her chopped and shot fellow patrons.

Robert Perry was discharged from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center yesterday. Alex Taylor was in stable condition at Mass. General. I can't find out where Luis Rosado, shot in the chest, was being treated.

From a television interview with Bob Perry last night: "I have hatchet lacerations to my face and a bullet went through my back. The hatchet came so fast that I don't think I had time to think, but when it hit my head all of a sudden, I said this is something really serious happening here. What was going through my mind is: I'm going to be dead pretty soon. This is how it's going to end right here." He said that, despite his injuries, he intended to return to work as an EMT Monday, adding that his attacker's ''quietness was just stunning. I've never been in a fight in my life. I don't know anything about hate, and I don't understand where hate comes from."

Condemnation of the attacks from Massachusetts' officialdom is mounting, although nobody responsible for pumping up the volume of hate is taking their share of the blame. Even Mitt Romney chimed in, issuing a statement: ''All acts of violence are deplorable, particularly if they are motivated by hatred or bigotry. My hope is that the perpetrator responsible for this heinous crime is held accountable for his actions."

The prosecutor is fishing around for logical reasons for illogical hate, theorizing yesterday that Robida's attack was triggered by "some sudden upheaval in his personal life" in ways that make me wonder that, if Robida is captured alive, a smart defense attorney will be able to play on the DA's sympathies: ''It's easy to shoot someone, but to take a hatchet to someone's head, that's hard. It's gory, it's bloody. You need a lot of rage to do something like that. Something triggered that rage."

Walsh echoed police, saying Robida may be getting desperate and more prone to violence as his money runs out and that it's possible he's already committed suicide. ''As time goes by, people should be more afraid. He's got to be getting more desperate. . . . I will say he's more dangerous now than he was yesterday."

Robida's parents, Stephanie Oliver and David Robida called their son "a loner" and "somewhat hostile to others."
Walsh said the parents had cooperated and been interviewed by police and prosecutors at length. ''I don't think he was close to [his father] at all. ... [David Robida] didn't have much to say about his son, other than he's strange and doesn't like anybody."

But the online community at myspace.com paints an entirely different picture of a gregarious communicator using the alias ''Jake Jekyll" and listing 96 online friends, mostly women who into tattoos and heavy metal music.
His homepage, which he used just hours before the attack, has ''pass the axe," a slogan used by the Insane Clown Posse a rap act, in large type.

In interviews, several of his friends - online and real time -- said Robida was friendly and kind ("gets along with everybody", said Kim Silva, 18, who saw him a week ago; Heather Volton, 22 - Fall River, called him a "nice kid. Every time I was with him, he always had a smile on his face. He was good to me, so I have nothing bad to say about him as far as a person."), into pro-wrestling, video games, heavy metal, and hanging out. He dropped out of high school at 16 and had been musing lately about becoming a tattoo artist.

Robida was last seen driving a green 1999 Pontiac Grand Am with Massachusetts license plates 85E-C58. However, police have asked that all cars fitting that description that are parked where they wouldn't be expected - in a vacant lot unmoved for a day or two, newly appeared in a neighborhood, etc. - be called in for police ID, no matter what the license number. The police will go read the VIN # on the windshield. They asked that you not do this yourself lest the suspect be hiding in the car. Call your local police to ID vehicles matching the suspect's. Call local police and either of the New Bedford police tip numbers for the case for information about Robida (5-foot-6, about 200 pounds, with dark hair), his whereabouts, or the case itself: (508) 961-4584 or 508-991-6320.


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