A Guerneville, California man who threatened to set off pipe bombs in order to harm a gay Starbucks barista and the town’s Safeway supermarket where he worked, has been convicted of felony threats with a hate crime enhancement.
Vincent Joseph O’Sullivan also stole two rainbow flags from the Guerneville Chamber of Commerce last May, throwing one in the Russian River. Guerneville is a popular gay vacation destination.
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch released a statement about the crime: “The charge of criminal threats stemmed from an incident which happened on May 12, 2018 when O’Sullivan entered the Safeway in Guerneville to purchase a coffee at the Starbucks kiosk. The lone barista working behind the counter, a gay man, recognized O’Sullivan as a regular customer and sought to strike up a conversation at the register. Using a combination of homophobic slur and foul language, O’Sullivan responded by calmly stating that he was in the process of building pipe bombs to blow up the barista, Safeway, and the Guerneville Sheriff substation. The victim testified at trial that this threat gave him nightmares for weeks afterwards.”
Ravitch added: “In addition to evidence of the threat, jurors also heard about a crime that had taken place three days prior. On May 9, 2018 O’Sullivan had taken part in the theft of a gay pride flag from the Veterans Memorial flagpole in the Guerneville plaza. When arrested for that theft, O’Sullivan described the flying of the flag as ‘disgraceful and offensive’, claiming it had no place on the pole which was dedicated to veterans. O’Sullivan was charged separately with the theft of that flag, and was convicted of that offense in July of 2018.”
O’Sullivan will be sentenced on April 4th. He faces three to six years in prison.