A popular gay nightclub in Oak Park, IL was gutted by fire last week. Anti-gay graffiti was left on the wall, suggesting the suspects acted out of malice against the club’s owners and clientele. Police are now formally declaring the incident an act of arson.
“It’s been concluded by investigators that probable cause indicates arson,” Oak Park Fire Deputy Chief Kenneth Klemm told The Chicago Tribute. “Police are now taking the lead on the investigation.”
The fire was reported at the Velvet Rope Ultra Lounge early Sunday morning. According to the club’s owner, Frank Elliott, authorities found derogatory messages written inside the scorched building. The Tribune reports that a piece of the club’s wall has been removed and taken for evidence.
Police Commander LaDon Reynolds confirmed the presence of graffiti, but refused to describe it because the investigation is ongoing. “We do not have any suspects at this time; we are still investigating leads,” Reynolds said. “We are not holding anyone in custody at this time.”
“We’re hoping that, from additional interviews, more leads will come,” Reynolds said.
Police have declined to state whether they believe the arson was committed as an anti-gay hate crime.
Photo credit: Dwayne Bent (Creative Commons)