Attacks on pizzeria owners being investigated as anti-gay hate crimes

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DELTA – The Millard County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a string of possible hate crimes committed against a Delta family since April. The latest incident occurred Wednesday.

Wednesday evening, according to a statement from the Millard County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Central Pizzeria and Grill in Delta was burglarized and vandalized, and money was stolen from the restaurant. That same evening, the Jones family, owners of the restaurant, were victimized at their home.

CNN reports someone threw a Molotov cocktail through restaurant co-owner Rick Jones’ bedroom window Wednesday night. The device didn’t explode but ignited a fire in his room, burning a wall and a portion of the carpet. Jones was able to put the fire out with an extinguisher.

KSL reports a rock bearing words referencing homosexuality was also thrown through the window.

Wednesday wasn’t the first time Jones has been specifically targeted. During the first incident, which occurred in April, he was closing up the family’s restaurant, CNN reported, and had sent the other employees home. He was taking trash out through the rear door of the business when he said someone hit him from behind, forced him down and tried to make him drink bleach.

Jones woke up in the hospital hours later. He had a concussion and severe bruising, and the attacker or attackers had carved anti-gay slurs into the inner parts of his arms. The perpetrators had also stolen more than $1,000 from the restaurant.

The next day, the same anti-gay messages were spray-painted on the garage door of the Delta home Jones and his sisters share with their parents.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox issued the following statement Friday regarding the incidents:

I was horrified and heart-broken to learn of this cowardly and barbaric assault. The Jones family is an upstanding, well-respected and beloved part of the Delta community. Immediately upon learning of the hateful acts, we offered county officials the full support of the state in finding the perpetrators and bringing them to justice.

I have reached out to the family and expressed our deepest concern, solidarity and love. This will not stand. I believe that over the coming days we will see an unprecedented outpouring of love and support from every corner of our great state. That is the real Utah.

The perpetrators have reportedly stolen thousands of dollars from the restaurant since the series of incidents began.

While the incidents are being investigated as anti-gay hate crimes, Jones’ father, Richard Jones Sr., told the Salt Lake Tribune he isn’t convinced the crimes have been motivated by his son’s sexual orientation, though he declined to specify why.

The Sheriff’s Office is investigating several leads in the case, according to the press statement.

“There is a reward available to anyone providing information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of these crimes,” the statement said.

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11 Comments

  • Simone June 13, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    This is disgusting. It sickens me to think that this is 2015 and this kind of cowardly crap still happens. I hope they catch the homophobic, redneck, cowards who did this and remove them from society for a long time.

    • izzymuse June 15, 2015 at 11:35 am

      Exactly, Ignorance breeds cowardice, fear, violence, and more ignorance. Most homophobic people (and yes, as you referred to, they are usually “red necks” – lol) I know personally are usually racist and sexist. I have noticed that they have never lived by or known homosexuals (anyone from the TGBQ community), minorities, or people “different” from them (especially religiously and culturally different from them). They are ignorant about people different from their little world. Education is key to ending MOST hate crimes. Most of these same homophobes that I know treat women like objects (but treat them worse than their guns, vehicles and other more prized objects). Most of this behavior has been proudly taught to them by their ignorant parents and red neck groups.

  • fun bag June 13, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    strange…

  • ladybugavenger June 13, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    That’s terrible, don’t hate. You don’t have to agree with someone or the way they live but too steal, and destroy their property with malice, in the name of I Hate You, its despicable.

  • Mean Momma June 14, 2015 at 9:38 am

    I think I will be making a trip to Delta tomorrow for some pizza and moral support!

  • old school June 14, 2015 at 10:01 am

    The State needs to take a look at the sheriff’s department, crimes of this magnitude should have been investigated more aggressively long before now. Delta is a relatively small community, it shouldn’t be hard to come up with a list of suspects. The ones responsible probably already have a criminal record and are likely outspoken about their beliefs

    • fun bag June 14, 2015 at 11:24 am

      Could easily be the sheriff’s brother or something in a dump like Delta…

      • mesaman June 14, 2015 at 5:36 pm

        It is possible that you and old fool are wrong. I know Sheriff Dekker, grew up in East Millard, and I know him to be unimpeachable. He probably has more integrity than the two of you combined. The SO certainly could use your personal insight since you seem so imbedded in the ways of these criminals. On the other hand, I wager they are cowards. Why don’t you join Mean Momma and show your support of the victims instead of your bitterness and lack of understanding.?

      • riccie June 14, 2015 at 8:03 pm

        Hey fun bag maybe its your own father since you have nothing good to say about anyone or any place.

  • sagemoon June 14, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Scum bags. I can’t wait to see their pathetic faces as mug shots when they get caught.

  • mmsandie June 14, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Ft his is maddening, you don,t. Have to agree with lifestyle, but control your feelings and emotions.. When I go to Delta gain I will support his business for sure.. Get real people. The world is changing..

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