NYC LGBTQ+ Rash Nightclub Arson Suspect John Lhota Arrested

Authorities have arrested the firefighter accused of starting a huge fire inside a Brooklyn nightclub earlier this month, Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday.

John Lhota was arrested by US Marshals for allegedly dozing the floor of Rash nightclub in Bushwick with gasoline before setting it on fire on April 3 – sending panicked patrons running for the exits and severely damaging the venue, according to Federal Court sources and documents.

“We can confirm that the @FDNY, @NYPDNews and federal partners caught the suspect in this arson and took him into custody,” Adams tweeted Thursday afternoon, without giving further details.

“We made a promise to our LGBTQ+ community and all communities to keep our city safe. We will not stop to make it a reality,” he said.

It was not immediately clear when Lhota was arrested for the club fire. But he was identified as an arson suspect last Friday – two days after he was arrested by police for allegedly assaulting a woman in her apartment, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Surveillance footage shows the suspect dousing the ground with gasoline.
Footage shows flames beginning to consume the club.
Footage shows flames beginning to consume the club.

The woman viewed security footage of the arson and identified the suspect as Lhota, court documents said.

The LGBTQ bar fire sent two women – a bartender and a DJ – to hospital. A bouncer, who briefly caught fire, also sought medical attention, the owners said.

Brooklyn nightclub
Firefighters at the Rash Nightclub crime scene in Bushwick on April 3, 2022.
Citizen application
Brooklyn Club
The fire had people panicking, running for exits and damaging the club.
Citizen application

Prior to the fire, Lhota was captured on security camera footage leaving his building, just half a mile from the building, according to court documents.

He was also seen buying a red canister, which he filled with gasoline, before he allegedly ‘systematically poured gasoline on Rash’s floor’, wrote Craig Gundersen, a fire marshal of the FDNY, in the arrest warrant affidavit.

Despite the heavy damage caused by the fire, one of Rash’s owners, Jack Sillen, told the Post that the club would reopen “no matter how long it takes us”.

John Lhota
A woman identified John Lhota as the suspect, who started the fire.
Brooklyn Nightclub
The owners plan to reopen the club no matter how long it takes to repair.

” Few of [Rash] will be salvageable, we will have to start fresh,” Sillen said after the fire.

“We spent the last year pouring all of our time, energy and heart into this place and we were really proud of what it was becoming. It was just getting on its feet.

A GoFundMe campaign for the fledgling club raised a whopping $109,000 for a “Staff, Medical and Catering Fund”.

New York Post

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