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Police search for suspect who threw firework into crowd at LGBTQ+ event in Hermosa Beach

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Hermosa Beach police are investigating a possible hate crime after a lighted firework was thrown into a crowd of hundreds at an LGBTQ+ Pride event.

Police responded to a call on the night of June 17 about an exploding firework being thrown at a crowd at a silent disco event at Vista, a bar and lounge on Pier Avenue near the Hermosa Pier, said Capt. Landon Phillips.

Fragments hit multiple people, but no life-threatening injuries were reported. Two people suffered minor burns, Phillips said.

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“It was a large explosion,” he said. “It’s maybe an M-80 or a cherry bomb, but the explosion wasn’t just like a firecracker or an M-80, it actually had some pyrotechnics to it, so it was fairly large.”

Reported hate crimes rose 20.2%, to 2,120, figures from the California Department of Justice show. The number of such events has risen 145.7% since 2013.

June 28, 2023

Police released a video of the incident, which shows the male suspect lighting and throwing the explosive, then riding away on a gas-powered bicycle with an American flag attached to the back.

Police are searching for the suspect, who appeared to be in his late teens to early 20s and was wearing a black sweatshirt with yellow horizontal and vertical stripes and a red, white and blue helmet.

Phillips said the event producer told authorities there were about 400 people in the crowd.

Ricky Hayes, a South Bay resident who attends the silent disco each month, said he was standing 30 to 40 feet from where the firework landed and saw the suspect take off down a nearby alleyway.

Because much of the crowd was listening to music through headphones — typical of a silent disco — many attendees were confused about the sudden noise, including his wife and her friends.

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“They were all singing karaoke at the time this happened, with headphones on, singing. It exploded and it obviously made them jump, but I think a lot of people thought it was maybe even a part of the event.” he said.

Phillips said the motive is unknown, but it is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

“We don’t know if the suspect was targeting that event or just targeting a crowd of people. We’re not ruling it out, so we’re investigating it as a possible hate crime,” Phillips said.

From Toluca Lake to the Shakespeare Bridge, burning, shredding and stealing Pride flags has only inspired ‘tremendous support’ for LGBTQ+ people.

June 15, 2023

Hate crimes have been on the rise in California. Last year, 2,120 total hate crimes were reported — marking a 20.2% jump from the year prior, according to a California Department of Justice report released Tuesday.

Gay men were the target of 271 hate crimes, a 28.4% increase from 2021, according to the report. Hate crimes targeting transgender people increased by 55%, with 59 crimes reported.

Phillips said anyone with information about the incident should call Hermosa Beach police at (310) 318-0360.

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