A retired Long Island school teacher spent years threatening to kill, shoot, and bomb LGBTQ individuals and organizations, including the Stonewall Inn and the New York City Pride March.
On Wednesday, in a federal court on Long Island, Robert Fehring was sentenced to 30 months in prison for the more than 60 threatening letters he sent between 2013 and 2021.
“WE WARN YOU THAT THERE WILL BE RADIO-CONT[R]OLLED DEVICES PLACED AT NUMEROUS STRATEGIC PLACES, AND FIREPOWER AIMED AT YOU FROM OTHER STRATEGIC PLACES,” Fehring wrote in all caps to Pride march organizers in May 2021, according to charging documents filed in federal court. “WE’VE HAD ENOUGH!!! THIS WILL MAKE THE 2016 ORLANDO PULSE NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING LOOK LIKE A CAKEWALK.”
In 2016, 49 people were killed in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Two other letters threatened an attack similar to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing at an LGBTQ event in Huntington, N.Y. The 74-year-old also wrote to the operators of a ferry between Sayville and Fire Island warning they should search their boats and screen passengers with metal detectors.
Fehring pleaded guilty to sending the letters in February after being arrested and charged in December.
In one letter to the Stonewall Inn — the Greenwich Village bar where the modern gay rights movement was born in 1969 — Fehring threatened to “blow up/burn your establishments down” and said “we will shoot those who frequent” the bar, using homophobic slurs to refer to patrons.
Stonewall Inn co-owners Kurt Kelly and Stacy Lentz spoke at the sentencing hearing and said afterwards the punishment was too light in their view.
“30 months was not enough for the hate filled violence he threatened to carry out against LGBTQ+ community members and allys that support our community,” Lentz wrote in an email to NY1. “This unjust sentencing sends a clear message that we need stronger laws on hate crimes and that there is much work that needs to be done to make sure people who terrorize, and traumatize individuals for who they are or that support equality, are justly punished for their actions.”
Fehring also targeted an African American-owned barbershop in Brooklyn frequented by LGBTQ community members, prosecutors said, after News 12 did a feature on it.
When arrested in December at his home in Bayport, N.Y., the FBI and state authorities recovered photographs of a June 2021 Pride event on Long Island, two loaded shotguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, two stun guns, a machete, and an envelope addressed to an attorney affiliated with the LGBTQ community “containing the remains of a dead bird.”
At least 20 Pride flags police say were stolen from Sayville were also found in Fehring’s home.
In a letter to the June 2021 Pride event organizer, Fehring sent a doctored cover of Newsday featuring homophobic slurs and photos prosecutors believe he took of the event. In another letter to the same organizer Fehring said he planned to shoot them, but there were too many police around.
“You are being watched. No matter how long it takes, you will be taken out,” Fehring said, listing “high-powered bullet,” a bomb, and a knife as possible methods of causing the organizer harm.
Fehring also pleaded guilty to sending threatening letters to an elected official on Long Island, the CEO of an LGBTQ nonprofit based in Sag Harbor, and a chamber of commerce board member in Patchogue.