January 20, 2011 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Credibility questioned in Omega robbery report

D.C. police investigators are questioning the credibility of a customer who reported being robbed at gunpoint inside the men’s bathroom at the Dupont Circle gay bar Omega on Jan. 3, and at least one investigator doesn’t believe a gun was involved in the case, according to a police source.

A separate source familiar with a video surveillance system installed throughout Omega for security purposes said video images of the customer who reported the robbery and three people he identified as suspects contradicts the customer’s version of how the reported robbery unfolded.

The source said the surveillance video – which shows the movements of the customer and the alleged suspects inside the bar — raises questions about the customer’s claim that the robbery took place in the bathroom.

“Do I think something happened in that place? Absolutely,” said the police source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “But do I think it panned out the way he said it did? No I do not.”

A police report of the incident says that according to accounts by the victim and at least one witness, the reported robbery took place about 8:45 p.m. after the victim said he played pool with three people now listed as suspects in the case. The report says a witness told police that after the victim and the suspects played pool the victim bought the suspects drinks at the bar.

According to the report, the victim told police he went to the restroom and one of the suspects followed him there, pulled out a “dark colored handgun,” pointed it at his waistband, and stated “give it up.”

The report says the victim told police he turned over his wallet, which had at least $400 in cash. The report says the victim also told police the suspect stole his North Face coat, which he says has a value of more than $400; his driver’s license and his cell phone.

After committing the robbery, the suspect left the bathroom and fled the bar, and the victim ran after him, the victim told police, according to the police report.

The victim spoke to the Blade by phone on condition that the Blade not disclose his name. He confirmed that he ran out of Omega to look for the suspect, saying all three suspects “were gone” by the time he exited the bar.

But he disputed the police report’s assertion that he played pool with the suspects, saying he did not play pool with them. He also disputed the police report’s claim that the incident happened about 8:45, saying it happened no later than 6 or 7 p.m. and that he had been in the bar drinking since the time it opened at 4 p.m.

“I was too damn drunk to play pool because I was a little high,” he told the Blade. “I ain’t going to lie to you. I was drinking at the time.”

But later in the 20-minute interview, he said he wasn’t drunk. “The police knew I wasn’t even drunk at all,” he said. “The police asked me was I drinking. Yes I was drinking. And they knew I wasn’t drunk because of how I was talking to them.”

When asked if he often carries $400 or more in cash on him, he said, “No, I had to pay my rent. I went to the bank to get my rent and I had a drink in there and I was about to leave is what I was about to do.”

The police source said the case remains under investigation, with the possibility that it may be closed due to lack of evidence that an armed robbery occurred. One possibility, the source said, is the victim may have been “duped” by the suspects, who could have stolen his jacket and other possessions while he left them unattended.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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