By Matt Tracy
A 74-year-old Long Island man was arrested by the feds on Dec. 6 after he spent years targeting LGBTQ individuals, organizations, and events in New York City and Long Island — including New York City’s main Pride festivities — with threats to bomb, shoot up, and otherwise terrorize the queer community in the area, according to federal prosecutors.
Robert Fehring, of Bayport, allegedly delivered numerous letters with death threats, used photographs of Pride events in his menacing messages, and was found to be in possession of two loaded shotguns, several rounds of ammunition, a machete dressed up in the colors of the American Flag, and a DVD titled “Underground Build Your Own Silencer system,” according to an unsealed criminal complaint in federal court in Central Islip, New York. Fehring was charged with making threats using US mail and faces up to five years in prison if he is convicted.
According to the complaint, Fehring wrote or sent at least 60 letters between June 2013 and September 2021. Many of the threats issued by Fehring were consistent: The language was similar throughout his letters and he later admitted to stamping many of them with a “confidential” stamp to create the perception that the letters were important.
“As alleged, the defendant’s hate-filled invective and threats of violence directed at members of the LGBTQ+ community have no place in our society and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said in a written statement. “This Office is firmly committed to protecting the civil rights of all members of every community in this district, including the LGBTQ+ community and other minority communities.”
While Fehring’s actions are said to date back to at least 2013, he appeared to escalate his threats this year. In May, Fehring apparently delivered a letter to the executive director of New York City Pride, or Heritage of Pride (HOP), in which he threatened to attack the 2021 Pride March. While the complaint did not name any victims, HOP’s interim director at the time was David A. Correa (HOP has since announced the appointment of a new executive director, Sandra Pérez).
“As you f****** scum are preparing to waltz your fruity, freaky, f***** asses down the NY parade lanes, we warn you that there will be radio-controlled devices placed at numerous strategic places, and firepower aimed at you from other strategic places,” Fehring said in the letter to HOP’s leader, according to authorities. We’ve had enough!!!” Fehring warned HOP’s leader that an attack on the city’s Pride events would “make the 2016 Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting look like a cakewalk,” referring to the June 2016 mass shooting at the LGBTQ Pulse nightclub in Florida, where Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others.
HOP’s march was scaled-down event this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and an alternative march known as the Reclaim Pride Coalition’s Queer Liberation March drew tens of thousands of people. That event was not mentioned in the complaint.
“We take any and all violent threats seriously and report them to the appropriate authorities,” Pérez said in a written statement on Dec. 6. “We received threatening letters earlier this year and reported them. We appreciate the work of the Justice Department in investigating this situation. We are cooperating in any way we can, and we remain committed to the safety and well-being of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
On Long Island, two years ago, authorities say he targeted a member of the Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, writing, “If you continue to plan to have the LGBT thing at Alive and five, be prepared by having a large police presence, and numerous ambulances available.”
Another letter in the complaint was addressed to an unnamed CEO of an “LGBTQ+-affiliated non-profit organization in Sag Harbor” The LGBT Network, led by CEO David Kilmnick, has a location at 44 Union Street in Sag Harbor — and in a written statement to ABC7, Kilmnick acknowledged receiving threats.
“Better be ready to meet your end if you show up at Eisenhower on Sunday,” the letter to Kilmnick stated, referring to a Pride event over the summer. “It’s a great place to unload a high-powered rifle bullet from a distance, that can go right through your gay face. You were warned… play the price if you want. They can call you a martyr. We can call you… gone.”
Kilmnick told ABC7 that his organization has been reporting “these incidents” for six years.
“The threats made against the LGBT community and myself by this deranged individual are serious and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Kilmnick said. “We are relieved that years of fear, pain, and angst caused by these letters may have come to a close, however, this individual’s actions reaffirm the very real threats faced by our community and the work that still needs to be done. We are hopeful that justice will finally be served and a dangerous individual is no longer free to terrorize our community with extreme hate, bias and violence.”
Fehring sometimes went to great lengths to create detailed mailings. Feds said an envelope postmarked June 16 of this year was delivered to that same CEO with a fake Newsday newspaper showing photos from that same event that were allegedly taken by Fehring or obtained by him. The newspaper had a headline that read, “F** fest bust!!” and “Only 350 unnatural perverts, lesbos, and f****** show up!” It also referred to Kilmnick by replacing his name with a derogatory term.
Fehring appeared to continue his obsession with Kilmnick in a subsequent letter on June 25 in which he allegedly wrote, “We were right there you fudge-packing, scum-sucking, f****** animal… FREAK!!! They couldn’t get a shot off at you, slithering around the back stage area like a snake. Too many cops. Very disappointed. But your time has come… They are out to KILL you… and your boyfriend. You are being watched. No matter how long it takes, you will be taken out…. high-powered bullet… bomb… knife… whatever it takes.”
Several months later, Fehring was back at it: On Sept. 9, he sent a letter to an LGBTQ-inclusive barber shop in Brooklyn, according to the feds.
“You unnatural, abnormal, deviant, perverse scum… animals… lower than the s*** at the bottom of the pig pen,” stated the letter, which also contained racial slurs. “Men having oral and anal sex with each other is as twisted and beyond comprehension as it gets….”
That letter further referred to News 12 coverage of the barber shop, saying, “Thanks to News 12, we now know who you are, and where you are. And your shop is the perfect target for a bombing and/or graffiti and/or a shattered window front… or beating the scum that frequents your den of shit into a bloody pool of steaming flesh.”
Authorities also found similar homophobic letters sent to an unnamed elected official in Long Island in June of this year.
Fehring admitted that he was the author of certain letters and the owner of shotguns found in his home, according to federal prosecutors. He told authorities that he felt there was a “sickening overdose of that stuff being sgoved down everybody’s face on the paper, on the TV, and all over the place, and I’m not a fan of any of the homosexuality, homosexual thing.”
Fehring was slated to appear in court on Dec. 6 before Magistrate Judge Steven I. Locke.
This story first appeared on GayCityNews.com.