Two men suffered gunshot wounds after a man opened fire early Sunday outside a gay bar in Palm Springs, California.
A preliminary police investigation revealed there was a fight inside the bar, Toucan’s Tiki Lounge, that eventually moved outside to the parking lot. The unidentified suspect fled the scene, and the two victims were transported to a local hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening. Police said there were several witnesses present who fled the scene prior to the arrival of officers.
Videos allegedly showing the hectic scene inside Toucan’s during the incident started circulating on social media Sunday. The Twitter users who posted the videos did not immediately respond to NBC News' request for comment.
Joey Valenzuela, co-owner of Not So Innocent, an adult store next to Toucan’s, told NBC’s local Palm Springs affiliate that fights are nothing new in the city’s nightlife scene.
“Many fights, not just at Toucan’s,” he said. “More and more drug use, more alcohol use, people are already drunk or high by the time they get to the bar.”
Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect, whom they describe as “a Hispanic male adult, approximately 20-30 years old wearing a black hat, black hooded sweatshirt, black sweatpants and had tattoos on his neck.” Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Palm Springs Police Department at 760-778-8411.
When asked whether the gunman may have been motivated by anti-gay animus, Lt. William Hutchinson of the Palm Springs Police Department told NBC News that police “do not believe this was a hate crime at this point in time,” though the “case is still under investigation.”
Palm Springs has one of the highest concentrations of LGBTQ people in the country. According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, the southern California city has the third highest rate of same-sex couples in the United States: 107 same-sex couples per 1,000 households. The city was also the first in the U.S. to have an all-LGBTQ city council.
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