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Hate crimes unit probes threatening letters to GLBT services network

A Suffolk County police car in front of

A Suffolk County police car in front of the Long Island GLBT Services Network Thursday afternoon in Bay Shore on Oct. 9, 2014. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Four hate letters have been sent to a Long Island gay advocacy group in the past 16 months, with two Thursday threatening to kill its leader and burn down a housing complex announced this week, the group's founder said.

Long Island GLBT Services Network, which provides safe havens and programs to gay, transgender and bisexual people, received identical letters at its Bay Shore headquarters and its Woodbury office, said group founder David Kilmnick, one target of the threats.

"It is just a matter of time until the right moments arrive to eliminate you and your locations, and the 'safe house' is burned to the ground," the letters read.

Suffolk police said detectives in the hate crimes unit collected one letter, while Nassau police said officers responded to the Woodbury office.

Kilmnick said all the letters, typed in bold print, appear to come from the same source, and Thursday's letters refer to previous ones.

The first one arrived just before the June 2013 Long Island Pride Parade in Huntington and second just before the 2014 parade, he said.

Those letters threatened to turn the event into the local version of the Boston Marathon bombing, Kilmnick said. "It's meant to scare us, to put us back in the closet, but we won't be bullied," he said.

Thursday's letters come two days after leaders of the group and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced the tri-state area's first affordable housing for GLBT seniors. The project is being planned for a blighted parcel near the network's offices in Bay Shore.

Suffolk police said they have beefed up patrols at locations associated with the group.

Just as with the past letters, the current one will be analyzed for DNA and fingerprint evidence, said Det. Sgt. James Brierton of the Suffolk hate crimes unit. "I cannot yet say if they are from the same person or source, but they have some similarities," said Brierton, who added he has been in touch with Nassau police. "We're going to take it seriously because you never know when the person may act on these threats."

Kilmnick said the letters have been "unnerving": "It doesn't matter how many states have marriage equality. It doesn't equate to safety." Detectives ask anyone with information to call 631-852-6323 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.

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