A fourth suspect was held for questioning late Wednesday night in connection with a Tel Aviv gay youth club shooting in August 2009 that claimed two lives, police said early Thursday. The new detention came after a breakthrough in the case saw three others arrested earlier on Wednesday, in a case that had puzzled investigators for almost four years.
The fourth suspect was described by police as “a prominent member of the gay and lesbian community” who is suspected of withholding information in connection to the case, but is not thought by authorities to have been involved directly in the shooting.
The man is “a key figure” in solving the case, which police now think was motivated by reasons of personal revenge, not anti-gay sentiment, Channel 10 reported, adding that the police suspect him of sexual offenses.
The man’s lawyer said Thursday that his client was innocent of any connection with the affair, and was a “normal, responsible adult with no criminal record” who had been turned into “another victim of this difficult case.”
The lawyer added that his client was not in the venue at the time of the attack and stressed that he was not suspected of being in any way involved in the killing.
The three suspects arrested Wednesday, whom police said are Jewish — ruling out the possibility that the shooting was a Palestinian terror attack — were remanded for 11 days. A gag order has been placed on further details in the case.
Channel 2 reported that one of the suspects was a 20-year-old “petty criminal” from Pardes Katz. He would have been 16 at the time of the shooting.
Two of the suspects are related.
On August 1, 2009, a masked man entered the Bar Noar gay youth center on Tel Aviv’s Nahmani street and began shooting. Counselor Nir Katz and 16-year-old Liz Trubeshi were killed and dozens were injured. Approximately 40 people were present at the center that night.
The shooting shocked the country and the LGBT community, as police struggled to make sense of the case.
Politicians condemned the attack, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing “shock and dismay.”
The case has been one of the most expensive investigations carried out in recent years and more than 1,000 people have been questioned in connection with the shootings, Haaretz reported.
Trubeshi’s father told Ynet he believes the perpetrators “should be executed.”
“It’s good that they made arrests, but I won’t settle for a sentence that will see them released after 10 years,” said Eli Trubeshi. “A person who killed somebody on purpose should be buried underground just like his victim. The arrest will not bring my daughter back.”