ORLANDO, Fla. — Investigators with the Orlando Police Department are asking for help identifying a man seen on video vandalizing businesses with strong ties to the local LGBTQ community.
The “District Dive” and “Southern Craft” in the Milk District remain open for now after someone vandalized them early Wednesday morning.
Police released video showing the suspect walking through the area around 3:45 a.m. before he can be seen using some kind of object to shatter the windows of the two businesses.
Both businesses were closed at the time with no employees or customers present.
The damage was first reported to police just after 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The suspect was last seen running from the area westbound on South Street across Bumby Ave.
“The Orlando Police Department does not tolerate criminal behavior of any kind,” Orlando Police Chief Eric Smith said in a statement. “Whoever committed this brazen vandalism against our city’s LGBTQ+ businesses will be held accountable.”
Instead of preparing for another day of music, laughs and hanging out, Blue Star and other employees of the District Drive, Southern Craft and Southern Nights Orlando spent the morning picking up the glass of their shattered LGBTQ sanctuary.
“One big safe space for the community to come and play in three venues,” Star said. “With the amount of hate crime going on, you do become a little bit nervous. To think no other businesses around the space were affected, and only these venues were targeted does leave a little bit of a bad taste in your mouth.”
Star says the incident has put all LGBTQ-friendly businesses on a high alert that’s existed since the Pulse Nightclub shooting, but the businesses’ doors will stay open for all.
“We want to set the tone,” Star said. “We will not let hate win.”
The Orlando Police Department’s LGBTQ liaison has already been to the scene. Investigators have not said whether the attack was targeted or believed to be a hate crime.
The police department is asking anyone who recognizes the man in the video to call their non-emergency dispatch line at (321) 235-5300.
Tips can also be reported anonymously through Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477 or by texting the information to **8477. Tips that lead to an arrest could be eligible for a reward.
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