Prosecutors in Seattle have indicted a suspect in connection with an arson fire that threatened the lives of patrons visiting an LGBTQ venue in February.
The Charlotte Observer reports that 24-year-old Kalvinn Jay Garcia faces federal charges of arson in relation to the attack which occurred on Feb. 24, 2020. Video footage taken from the surrounding area that night shows Garcia standing next to a dumpster fire. Flames from that blaze spread to Queer/Bar and climbed the walls to the building’s second floor. At the time, the floor hosted a gay dance party with more than 50 people in attendance. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the attack.
Police arrested Garcia the night of the attack after witnesses saw him smoking a cigarette and glaring up at the dance party. Further video taken from cameras at Queer/Bar show him setting fire to the dumpster, then watching as the flames climbed. The official charge alleges that Garcia “did maliciously damage and destroy, and attempt to damage and destroy” Queer/Bar.
Upon his arrest, Garcia told officers that he was homeless, and blamed the queer community for his predicament. He called LGBTQ people “disgusting” and said he set the fire as opposed to attacking “a bunch of queers” directly.
If convicted, Garcia could face up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.00.
The fire outside Queer/Bar is one of a series of arson-related attacks on the LGBTQ community over the past two years. In June 2021, vandals set a pride flag on fire outside a California church. Most recently, video footage captured a homeless man setting fire to the Pulse memorial in Orlando, Florida.