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3 LGBTQ bars in The Grove receive threats from unknown caller

Staff at Rehab told 5 On Your Side the caller may have been banned from bars in the area recently.

ST. LOUIS — An unknown caller threatened to shoot up three LGBTQ bars in The Grove in St. Louis over the weekend.

Rehab, Just John and PRISM STL all received disturbing calls between Saturday night and Sunday morning from someone threatening to harm staff and their patrons and shoot up the establishments.

Tuesday afternoon, staff at Rehab told 5 On Your Side they thought the caller, who identified themselves as "The Joker," based on a voicemail, might have been banned from another bar in another area. 

That same person was also banned from the targeted bars, recently.

"It hurts. It's very invasive cause this is our safe space. I've been here for over ten years and this is my home away from home,” said Angela Basta, a manager.

A bartender at Michael Klataske and Sean Abernathy's bar PRISM actually spoke to the caller.

“My stomach kind of went to knots,” Klataske said.

"I consider our bar to be a safe space in our community and it is disheartening when it becomes one that's not safe," Abernathy, added.

The two mentioned they believed politics have played a role in activity including bans and violent acts across the nation that have targeted members of LGBTQ.

“Some politicians in this state that are bigoted toward my community and are trying to create laws with no data behind them that create a sense of more hate toward my community,” Abernathy said.

The bars made clear the incident would not stop them from creating a “safe space.”

“We're still going to keep throwing our parties, we're still going to keep having our fun, we're still going to keep welcoming everybody in,” Basta said.

Staff added that they have security and that there was a good police presence in the area the night the calls came in. St. Louis police will continue to investigate.

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