A 74-year-old Long Island man, who had sent over 60 letters to LGBTQI persons, organisations and businesses, including the Stonewall Inn in New York, threatening to “kill, shoot, and bomb” them, was sentenced to 30 months in prison last week.
Between 2013 and 2021, Robert Fehring, a retired high school teacher, had terrorised LGBTQI individuals and businesses in New York by sending them letters threatening violence. His eight-year long reign of terror came to an end in 2021 when he was arrested by the FBI.
Trigger Warning: This story discusses threats of violence against LGBTQI persons, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.
In his letter threatening the owners of Stonewall Inn, Fehring wrote, “we will blow up/burn your establishments down. We will shoot those who frequent your dens of (expletives).”
He wrote to a African American-owned LGBTQI run barber shop, saying the letter was from “People Who Hate Gays … and In Particular (n-word) Gays” and that , “your shop is the perfect place for a bombing … or beating the scum that frequents your den of (expletive) into a bloody pool of steaming flesh.”
FBI Recovers Guns And Ammunition
A homophobic psycho from Long Island was just sentenced to 30 months in prison for mailing over 60 anonymous letters to LGBTQ+ people threatening to kill, shoot, and bomb them. Robert Fehring is a retired high school teacher who never should’ve been left alone with children. pic.twitter.com/KS9pgbwc7A
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) August 4, 2022
In one of the letters, Fehring threatened to place “radio-cont(r)olled devices placed at numerous strategic places” at the 2021 New York City Pride March with “firepower” that would “make the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting look like a cakewalk.”
In two letters, he had threatened an attack on an LGBTQI event in Huntington, New York on the scale of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Other letters included threats of placing a radio-controlled explosives being planted at a beach club that had hosted a gay event and a June 2018 letter threatening operators of a water ferry service from Sayville to Fire Island.
The FBI Civil Rights Squad and the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force executed a search warrant at Fehring’s home in Bayport, New York, on November 18, 2021. They recovered copies of the letters, 20 LGBTQI Pride flags stolen from flagpoles in New York and “reconnaissance-style photographs” from a Pride event in Eisenhower Park.
The officers also recovered “two loaded shotguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, two stun guns, and a stamped envelope addressed to an LGBTQI affiliated attorney containing the remains of a dead bird.”
Victims Describe Fear
During the trial six victims described the fear they felt after receiving Fehring’s letters threatening violence. In February 2022, Fehring pleaded guilty to the charges before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert of the Federal court in Central Islip.
“There is no room for hate,” Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York said in a statement after the verdict.
“Today’s sentence makes clear that threats to kill and commit acts of violence against the LGBTQ+ community will be met with significant punishment. We will use the full power of our office to bring to justice those who threaten to kill or hurt people because of who they are, and to ensure everyone in our district is able to live authentically, safely and in peace.”
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