Man Who Set Fire to Brooklyn Club Rash Has Been Arrested

Man Who Set Fire to Brooklyn Club Rash Has Been Arrested

Update 4/14/22: Just a little over a week after the initial attack, the person responsible for walking into the Brooklyn nightclub pouring gasoline on the floor and setting the place on fire has been caught. In a statement posted by local authorities and shared by Rash, local authorities announced that they have arrested Brooklyn man, John Lhota, in connection to the incident.

"This was a brazen act of arson that seriously injured two people, placed the lives of residents and dozens of Firefighters in grave danger, and struck fear throughout an entire community," Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said. "I commend our Fire Marshals for their outstanding work alongside members of the NYPD and ATF to apprehend this dangerous individual."

According to court documents, Lhota was apprehended just three days after the attack after being arrested for assaulting a woman in his apartment complex. Lhota ended up being identified from security footage that showed him buying a red gas can, filling it up, dumping it on the club's floor, attempting to light it with a cigarette and then proceeding to ignite it with a lighter.

Prosecutors said that they have filed federal arson charges against Lhota which, if convicted, could carry anywhere from a seven-year minimum to 40-year maximum sentence. No hate crime charges have been filed as of yet but NYPD's Hate Crime Task Force has said they would be looking into the matter, given the fact that the bar was a frequent hangout for the local LGBTQ+ community.

In its post, Rash said that there was more info to come but said that it would be "sleeping a little easier tonight."

Just a few months after the Bushwick, Brooklyn nightclub first soft opened, Rash is looking for help from the community after it became the victim of an arsonist.

The attack occurred on Sunday, April 3 before the night's event was scheduled to take place. A man in a black hoodie and a backpack apparently walked into the venue, poured a clear liquid all over the floor and proceeded to set it on fire causing significant damage to the building and injuring people in the process.

"He said that he was just dumping out water, that he was a cleaner or something like that, and then security questioned him a little more, and then apparently he escalated it, obviously, by lighting the place," Rash Co-Owner Claire Bendiner told CBS.

For the most part, the relatively small crowd of bystanders was able to evacuate with only two individuals needing to be taken to a local hospital for burn-related injuries.

"We still don’t know what to make of this cruel act of violence," Rash wrote in a statement. "In only five short months we were privileged to become home to such a talented and vital community of artists. It breaks our hearts that anyone would seek to threaten that for any reason."

The nightclub continued, "At this time we haven’t identified the suspect or any motives, but we’re working closely with the authorities to investigate. If anyone has any information that might be useful in the investigation, please share it with us directly (email and DMs are open)."

Having opened this past October, Rash had been quickly emerging as an exciting new venue on the Brooklyn nightlife scene (especially in the wake of Bossa Nova Civic Club's recent closure), playing home to artists like Umfang, TYGAPAW, Bored Lord and umru.

"Our hearts go out to the team at Rash and the entire LGBTQ+ community of Bushwick," New York City Mayor Eric Adams tweeted. "While this incident is still being investigated, make no mistake: anyone who comes into my city looking to spread fear and hatred will pay the consequences."

In response to tragedy, Rash has set up a GoFundMe to support the club's out of work staff, cover medical bills and help cover the cost of restoration. So far the page has raised a little over $50,000 of their $200,000 goal.

Photo via Instagram