A Molotov cocktail was thrown into the house of a homosexual South Boston couple early on Saturday morning. The couple inside — Richeé Byrd and her fiancée, Nichole Fembleaux — were asleep at the time.
The incident likely happened sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 in the morning, when one or more assailants threw the cocktail in through the couple’s basement window.
Mary Carroll, who lives across the street from Byrd and Fembleaux, said her grandson heard glass break and saw a car speed off.
The Molotov cocktail ended up in the living room, but did not ignite. It is unclear if there were any flammable liquids in the bottle.
Byrd said the couple were not even aware that what had shattered their window was a Molotov cocktail until Fembleaux’s parents arrived later that morning.
“We didn’t notice anything was awry until this morning,” said Byrd, “We started cleaning it up; that’s when we saw the plastic bottle. It was plastic, not glass, with the cloth in it. It was burnt.”
The couple called the police and shortly after, the bomb squad, fire department, detectives, and uniformed officers showed up.
Civil rights detectives were also on the scene due to the fact that the couple are gay.
“They brought the civil rights detectives out here just to make sure because, you know, we’re gay, obviously I’m black,” Byrd said. “I appreciate them not overlooking that aspect.”
After the couple called the police, some of their neighbors showed up to check on them.
Former Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn, who is a neighbor of the couple, said the incident was “not characteristic” of his neighborhood and called Byrd and Fembleaux “wonderful people.”
“They’re just wonderful, wonderful people. It’s so sad to hear something like that happened. It’s not characteristic of this neighborhood at all.”
Flynn and his wife later met the couple and gave them a hug and a lantern with “love” written on a shamrock.
Another neighbor of the couple, Brendon Perotto, agreed with the former mayor, saying that the street is “wicked quiet.”
“It’s pretty alarming. It’s wicked quiet here, it’s always quiet.”
Despite the attack, Byrd said she feels safe in her neighborhood.
“I don’t feel threatened, I don’t feel intimidated. I don’t feel any malice from anyone,” she said. “I feel protected. I feel like my neighbors will have my back.”
Byrd said that her fiancée planned on going out with her parents to shop for a wedding dress later that day. The couple plan on marrying soon.
Richeé said she hoped the Molotov cocktail was just a “random incident.” She said she and Fembleaux planned on attending Boston’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade, which was held on Sunday.
The Boston Herald reported that Byrd also said the cocktail could have been nothing more than Saint Patrick’s Day “mayhem.”
Boston is well known for its tolerance towards same-sex couples. It is the capital of Massachusetts, the first U.S. state, and sixth jurisdiction in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
Boston’s leaders have also not been shy about defending same-sex couples. In 2012, then-mayor Tom Menino wrote an open letter to Chick-fil-A president, Dan Cathy, urging him not to open restaurants in Boston. Menino said in the letter that you “can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population.”
However, despite the couple’s feelings of safety, the Boston Herald still chose not to name Byrd or her fiancée because they were victims of crimes. Other Boston-based media sources, such as the Boston Globe and Boston.com, published the names of the couple, though.
According to Boston police spokesperson, Officer Rachel McGuire, no arrests have been made and the case is still under investigation.
[Image via Jim Barber/Shutterstock]