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Man, 18, sought after gun, hatchet attack at gay bar

Three patrons hospitalized after being wounded

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Massachusetts
Hate Crimes
Crime, Law and Justice

NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Police on Thursday are seeking a man in connection with a gun and hatchet attack at a gay bar in New Bedford, south of Boston. Three people were wounded in what authorities said they suspect were hate crimes.

Authorities described suspect Jacob D. Robida, 18, of New Bedford as violent, armed and dangerous, and suicidal. He is wanted on suspicion of three counts of attempted murder and hate crimes, police said.

Police said Robida has dark hair, is about 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He is believed to be driving a 1999 green Pontiac Grand Am with Massachusetts plate number 85EC58.

Robida's friends and relatives are assisting authorities, said Capt. Richard Spirlet, a police spokesman.

One bar patron suffered deep cuts on his head and was shot in the face, and two others were shot in the back and chest, authorities said.

They have been identified as Robert Perry of Dartmouth, Alex Taylor of Fairhaven and Luis Rosado, apparently a neighbor of Robida's, said a source familiar with the investigation.

Hospital officials said Perry was transported from St. Luke's Hospital in Dartmouth to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston in good condition. Boston is about 50 miles north of New Bedford.

Police said one of the victims was taken to Boston by helicopter, and a second, in critical condition, was flown to Boston later.

The attacker also may have been injured at the bar.

Police identified Robida as a suspect after someone in the bar said they recognized him, Spirlet said.

A bartender, who asked only to be identified as Phillip, told CNN he had a bad feeling when a man entered the Puzzles Lounge after 11:30 p.m. ET Wednesday and asked if it were a gay bar. (Watch the bartender describe how an armed man attacked patrons -- 7:17)

"At that time I was a little nervous as to why he was asking," Phillip said. "I don't know if it's because he felt out of place if he wasn't gay, or if it's because he wanted to actually find out if he's in the right place."

He said the man was dressed in a hooded, black sweat shirt, with the hood over his face, and baggy jeans. "He just had a stone cold look on his face ... just emotionless," Phillip said.

Recalling he checked for ID before serving him a drink, Phillip said the identification indicated the man was 23, with an October 19, 1982, birth date.

After finishing the drink and ordering a second one, Philip said, the man moved to the back of the bar, watching a game of pool briefly before taking out a hatchet -- a small ax the size of a hammer, Phillip said. "He started swinging the hatchet on top of this customer's head," he said.

The bartender said he called 911, trying to keep the phone from view, and urged patrons out the door.

Meanwhile, the attacker struck a second patron with the hatchet, pulled out a gun and shot the first victim in the face and the second twice in the head, Phillip said. A third person also was shot in the abdomen.

Phillip said he came face to face with the attacker at the bar door, and the man pointed a gun at his face and pulled the trigger but nothing happened.

"I thought I was done," he said. "It was as if I was watching a television, and somebody put it on mute, and I heard nothing."

Calls to police concerning the nightclub are rare, authorities said. "If all the bars in the city were that quiet, it'd be great," Spirlet said.

Phillip said he gave police the glasses from which the man drank for fingerprint and possible DNA testing. No weapons were recovered, authorities said.

Robida is a graduate of New Bedford's junior police academy, a program intended to build social skills, self-esteem and self-confidence in children 12 to 14, police said.

CNN's Rose Arce, Katy Byron, Deborah Feyerick and Alison Gilbert contributed to this report.

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