AUSTIN — As Pride Week festivities kick off in Austin, police are investigating reports of fireworks thrown at a local gay bar in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Police confirmed they received reports that the fireworks were thrown at the bar, The Iron Bear, overnight on Aug. 9. The nightclub is located in Downtown Austin at 121 W. Eighth Street.
The bar's co-owner, Benny Beshear, told the Austin American-Statesman that the firework was thrown at approximately 1:10 a.m. from a black or dark-colored car stopped at a traffic light. Bartenders at the bar said they believe this incident was random and it was not targeted for being a gay bar.
"If they would have gone to Fourth (Street) and done it to Sellers, or Rain or Oil Can Harry's, then that's something to be like, okay well, now they're going after all these gay bars," said Al Rivera. "Now, there's something to start following up on, but if they're just throwing them randomly, that's not really a story."
As for regulars of the bar at the corner of 8th and Colorado, they said they also aren't concerned about the firework.
"But you know with one big bang, everyone gets excited," said Rusty Salazar. "I don't think that it had anything to do with it being a gay bar."
"I didn't view it as something being homophobic or being a poke at the gay community," added Ken Earnest.
According to police, this isn't the first time this summer someone has tossed a firework onto the bar's patio, either. APD told KVUE that at approximately 1:58 a.m. on June 28, 2018, police received a call where witnesses stated someone drove by Iron Bear and threw a loud firework onto the patio. No injuries were reported and no vehicle description was given associated with that incident on June 28, police said.
Reports state the bar has since decided to boost its security.
On Facebook, Iron Bear management wrote that police were called and responded to the incident, though witnesses nor the bar's cameras were able to record the suspect's license plate.
"Going forward, I will be placing a camera outside that can see license plates," the post states. "I also asked the officer if they could patrol this block more and station a car on the block for a few weeks. I will also call them tomorrow and follow up."
APD said nearly 30-40 minutes after the firework incident at Iron Bear on Aug. 9., another firework was thrown on the south side of The Driskill, located at the corner of Sixth Street and Brazos Street. APD told KVUE that an officer in the area heard the firework and saw the smoke, but did not see a suspect in the area. The APD sergeant reportedly called out to other officers in the area, who also stated they did not see any suspects, police said.
Austin police would like to remind the public that popping fireworks is illegal within city limits and if you witness a similar incident or see something suspicious, call 9-1-1.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.