Owners of gay bar meet with police about attack they say was hate crime; suspect’s bond set at $200K
A gay couple who was attacked outside the Norwalk bar they own called a meeting with Norwalk police Thursday, “very productive” in a post on their bar’s website and social media.
Troupe429 co-owners Casey Fitzpatrick and his husband Nicholas Ruiz gave sworn statements to police who continue to investigate the assault, which the victims say was a hate crime. Witnesses also met with police Thursday to give their accounts of what happened Sept. 23 outside the gay bar.
“We believe that once all of this comes to light, it’ll be evident that this was a hate crime,” said attorney Stephanie Stich, who represents Fitzpatrick and Ruiz.
“We’re all on the same page here. We all want to get to the bottom of this and make sure that all avenues are vetted, and if there’s other charges, so be it,” added Chief Thomas Kulhawik.
The meetings came one day after the arrest of Carmen Parisi, of Norwalk, on two counts of third-degree assault. At the time, police said body camera footage from officers who responded to the scene showed no indication of any anti-LGBTQ+ motivation.
Parisi, 34, went before a judge Thursday afternoon where the state upgraded one of his charges to second-degree assault. Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Suzanne Vieux told the court it came after receiving one of the victim’s medical records.
“Information was revealed that he was kicked in the head while lying on the ground, resulting in horrific injuries,” Vieux said. “One of the complainants received over 50 stitches for the damage that was done.” She asked the judge to keep Parisi’s bond at $75,000.
Attorney David Marantz asked for bond to be lowered to $25,000 and said Parisi told him he was not the aggressor. Vieux countered that security camera footage from outside the bar clearly shows Parisi assaulting the two victims. Judge Kevin Randolph set bond at $200,000.
Parisi has two pending cases out of Waterbury Superior Court, where he faces charges including, violation of a protective order, threatening, breach of peace and assault. He also was currently on probation following a conviction in March for filing a false incident report.
His arrest in this case followed public outcry after Fitzpatrick posted about the attack on Troupe429’s website Tuesday and included a picture of Ruiz bloody in the hospital. Fitzpatrick wrote, “His face around his eye and cheek was torn open, requiring a trip to the emergency room, and surgery of over 50 stitches across his face and eye totaling $20,000 in plastic surgery.”
According to the post, the attack happened after Parisi was kicked out of the bar for harassing several female customers and staff. Once outside, “The suspect repeatedly made disparaging statements about the bar and the people inside it, and use[d] derogatory and anti-LGBTQ words. Then suddenly, the suspect became violent.” Fitzpatrick also criticized the police investigation and asked for the public's help seeking justice.
In response to the post, police said Tuesday there was an arrest warrant for the suspect that was pending court approval.
At a news conference Thursday morning, police told the media the online post was the first they’d heard about hate speech. They also said the video of the attack from the bar did not have any audio on it. Kulhawik was adamant the investigation isn’t over and implored any witnesses to come forward and speak with police.
He later told News 12 any delay in getting sworn statements from the victims was due to possible miscommunication. “We want to do a thorough investigation. We want to work with them. We’re going to work together,” Kulhawik said.
Stich said her clients are grateful to police for making an arrest and want nothing more than justice. “They are happy to assist the police in whatever way possible,” Stich said.
Anyone who may have additional information about the incident can contact the Norwalk Police Department at 203-854-3111.