By Cory Moreno
We are now here at what was once a gay bar called the Anvil. I could not exactly find
when it opened but there are records in Our Own as early as 1979. One night here terror broke
out on the club goers on an early march evening. On the eve of March 25, 1992, a group of
around 5 children ranging from ages 8-14 terrorized the waterside and Norfolk area with a
twenty-two- caliber rifle taken from the bedroom of a relatives.
Earlier that evening of March 25 th , the children started causing a ruckus in the waterside
area at a shopping entertainment complex and then made their way to the anvil gay bar where at
around 8pm, they opened the door of the bar and shouted discriminatory profanities. Assistant
manager Ken Colley said Keppel, who was behind the bar, ordered them to leave. Police said the
youths left the bar and walked toward Waterside, but returned about 15 minutes later, opened the
door of the bar while crouching on the ground and opened fire on the inside of the bar with that
22-caliber weapon. William Kevin Keppel whom had his back against the door was struck in the
back. The bullet went through his heart and lung however he was rushed to the hospital where he
was quickly treated and fortunately eventually recovered. Despite the statement to police
indicating the shooting was a hate crime, Colley and two other Anvil employees disagree saying
that they didn’t feel this was a gay bashing but more of a revenge thing in retaliation for the boy
being told to leave.
According to a Queer Nation representative the shooting incident at The Anvil was said
to be blown out of proportion and there was no indication that the incident was a hate crime
directed against gays. It was also added that "kids," over the last several months, have
occasionally thrown firecrackers into The Anvil and have been asked to leave the club after they
have wandered inside.
Although no one was killed, this is a very scary event that is not only peculiar as it
involves children as the perpetrators of the gay community but also that this wasn’t a more
widely talked about incident based on looking at news articles around this time. It also personally
evokes a lot of emotions for me as it reminds me recent and horrific Orlando pulse shooting. It’s
important to realize that things like this can and do happen in our community and is something
unfortunately we should be aware and cautious of.