Reporting with the Associated Press |
A retired Long Island teacher who threatened violence against a pride-themed Alive After Five festival in Patchogue was sentenced to 30 months in prison Wednesday for mailing dozens of violent threats to LGBTQ affiliated individuals, groups and businesses over several years.
According to prosecutors, Robert Fehring threatened to blow up the Stonewall Inn, a historic bar in Manhattan considered the birthplace of the gay rights movement. He also threatened to place explosives at 2021 New York City Pride march that would “make the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting look like a cakewalk,” referring to the 2016 attack in which 49 people were killed and dozens wounded at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Back in 2019, the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce received a similar threat after plans for a Pride themed Alive After Five date was announced.
Other messages threatened to kill, shoot and bomb LGBTQ affiliated businesses and individuals, including an African American-owned barbershop in Brooklyn that Fehring wrote in one letter “is the perfect place for a bombing.”
The former Bellport school teacher pleaded guilty in February to mailing threatening communications through the postal service.
“We are disappointed in the length of the sentence, but Mr. Fehring is happy to be putting this nightmare behind him,” his attorney, Glenn Obedin, said in an email. “He is deeply remorseful for what occurred, and looks forward to living quietly with his family once he has served his sentence.”
An FBI search of Fehring’s home last November in Bayport, Long Island, yielded two loaded shotguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in addition to copies of letters containing threats. Investigators also found a stamped envelope addressed to an LGBTQ-affiliated attorney containing the remains of a dead bird, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York.
“Robert Fehring made heinous threats against members of the LGBTQ community in locations throughout New York, including Suffolk County, for nearly eight years,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said in a statement. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of our department’s Hate Crimes Unit detectives and the diligent work of our law enforcement partners, Fehring is being held accountable for his crimes.”
Top: FILE – Robert Fehring, left, arrives at federal court with his attorney in Central Islip, NY, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. Fehring has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for mailing dozens of violent threats to LGBTQ affiliated individuals, groups and businesses over several years, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. (James Carbone/Newsday via AP, File)