Updated: 8:14 p.m. ET Feb. 2, 2006
Nazi items in home of alleged gay bar attacker
3 injured from attack that involved hatchet, handgun; shooter on the loose
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. - The attacker hid his weapons in a hooded sweatshirt as he strode into a popular gay tavern known for its quiet atmosphere and trouble-free customers.
The young man flashed an apparently fake ID, the bartender said, and calmly ordered a drink, asking if he was at a gay bar. Told that he was, he attacked the patrons with a hatchet and handgun, sending three men to the hospital early Thursday, one with critical injuries.
Authorities in this historic seaport searched for Jacob D. Robida, 18, who was charged in an arrest warrant with assault, attempted murder and civil-rights violations.
According to court papers attached to the warrant, Robida’s mother told police he came home around 1 a.m., bleeding from the head, then left again. Officers who searched his bedroom found what they described as “Nazi regalia” and anti-Semitic writings on the wall, the police affidavit said. It said Robida was recognized by a woman in the bar.
“Obviously, we have a man who’s dangerous, who’s not rational, and he has weapons,” said Bristol District Attorney Paul Walsh Jr.
The bartender at Puzzles Lounge told The Associated Press the assailant walked in around midnight and drank a rum on the rocks. He ordered another and walked to the back of the bar, where two men were playing pool.
Swung hatchet at man's head
The attacker shoved one of the men to the ground, then pulled a hatchet from his sweatshirt and began swinging it at the man’s head, said the bartender, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Phillip, because of concerns about his own safety while the gunman is at large.
The second pool player intervened, swinging at the assailant with his pool cue, but the attacker fended him off, the bartender said.
Several other patrons tried to stop him, and he was knocked off his feet, sending the hatchet flying, Phillip said.
The attacker then pulled out the handgun and shot one man, according to the bartender. He fired another bullet into the chest of a patron who was leaving the bathroom.
“He was shooting at everyone,” Phillip said.
The attacker shoved the bartender before leaving the building and running up the street, he said.
Police arrived moments later, finding the hatchet on the barroom floor and a knife lying on the ground outside, though it was apparently never used in the attack.
Court documents said a woman in the bar recognized Robida as a current or former student at New Bedford High School. School officials declined to confirm whether Robida was enrolled there.
Attended boot camp-like program
He was also known to New Bedford police because he graduated in 2001 from the city’s Junior Police Academy, according to acting Police Chief David Provencher. The “boot camp” program is designed to teach discipline to 12- to 14-year-olds, many of whom are referred by juvenile courts or social services agencies.
Robida’s mother, Stephanie Oliver, declined to comment Thursday through a family friend who answered the door at their home.
The wounded men were identified by police as Robert Perry of Dartmouth, Alex Taylor of Fairhaven and Luis Rosado of New Bedford.
One has a gunshot wound to the chest, another a gunshot wound to the back and severe cuts to his face, and a third suffered multiple cuts, police said. They would not specify which man suffered which injuries.
All three victims remained hospitalized. Police said one was in critical condition but would not say which man.
Puzzles is popular with New Bedford’s gay community and is listed on several Web sites offering resources to gays and lesbians. Police said they rarely respond to reports of trouble there.
“If all the bars in the city were that quiet, we’d be great,” police Capt. Richard Spirlet said.
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