Gay couple w/ 4 kids bullied in Arizona for months, kids threatened with gun

This article was originally published on on July 2, 2012.

Picture your family terrorized in a home that you own and pay taxes on. Unknown persons vandalized your property. They scratched bigoted slurs into your vehicles. They broke in when you weren’t home and desecrated your living quarters. They vandalized your children’s bedrooms. They were successful at making your children afraid. In response like any good law abiding citizen who simply wishes to leave in peace, you filed over 12 police reports over a two month period. The police did nothing, until finally you were fed up and went to the Internal Affairs department. The tale of your harassment reached a national level, only to see the police come up empty handed — and now in the 4th month of harassment, your children were threatened with a firearm and followed home.

Are you beginning to understand the plight of the innocent family of Felix Bermea and Roy Messerschmidt and their four adopted children, one of whom is special needs and in a wheel chair?

This article is a follow up to a piece that was written May 31st about the horrifying tale of a peaceful, well-to-do gay couple in Arizona that has been persecuted, harassed, and bullied by their neighborhood with little to no action taken by police. I liberally describe the harassers as the neighborhood, because there is no evidence to suggest people from outside of the community are carrying out these abusive tactics.

In the last 120 days the Bermea’s family vehicles have been vandalized, with gay slurs scratched into them. Their property has been set on fire, and their home has been broken into — again with slurs and profanity left behind. One of the children’s rooms was vandalized, and they now are afraid to sleep there. Can you blame them? How would any child be able to sleep knowing that there are people outside your walls who want to do harm to you and your family? The trauma on the minds of these children is heartbreaking, as they will likely carry these moments terror with them for the rest of their lives. It is despicable, deplorable and truly tragic that these innocent children have learned at such an early age what it means to live in fear.

This all has taken place under the nose of the local police department who have yet to put a stop to those responsible for this now marathon session of bullying. I personally find it difficult to believe that nobody in the community knows anything. Logic defies such reasoning. There are more than those who are carrying out the harassment who are involved in this.

Because of the attention this received last month one would assume the harassment would die down, because sunlight is always the best disinfectant. That is not the case now and the abuse, it seems, isintensifying.

Just recently over the weekend of June 30th two of the children were accosted by at least two men in a white SUV, one who had a gun! According to the new Facebook group created to support the family it was reported that a man drove along side them and another got out of the vehicle and pointed a pistol at the defenseless, blameless children. The children then fled home, with both men giving chase. One on foot, and the other slowly following in their vehicle. Upon arriving they told their parents what happened, who again called the police. Again, no leads — and no help.

This all took place under the nose of the local police department who have known about the family’s plight for months and they have produced nothing short of a total and complete failure in their capacity as law enforcement.

Imagine how you would feel, knowing that your children had a gun pointed at them by people who meant to do your family harm. Can you feel that tingling sensation? That is called anxiety, and it is something that this family has lived with for months.

Many concerned citizens have written to the Chief of Police, Tim Dorn, to all receive the same form letter which reads as follows:

Contrary to what is being reported in the media, the Gilbert Police Department is actively investigating these incidents. The initial responding officer to the last incident identified potential leads and conducted follow up on those leads. We have assigned a bias crimes detective, who is being assisted by her supervisor. They have spent numerous hours attempting to identify other leads and evidence. We would very much like to identify the person or persons responsible in order to hold them accountable for their actions by charging them with the appropriate criminal charges. We take these incidents, and all reported crimes, very seriously.

My Mission Statement states “The respect for individual rights in the basis of our constitution and cornerstone of our values at the Gilbert Police Department. Our mission is to serve as law enforcement leaders in protecting and assisting all people in our community through effective problem solving, professional service, and the relentless pursuit of those who victimize our citizens and compromise public safety.” We take our mission statement very seriously.

Thank you for providing me with an opportunity to factually address your concerns. Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.
Tim Dorn
Chief of Police
Gilbert Police Department
“Courage, Honor, Integrity, Professionalism”
(480) 635-7272
[email protected]

The chief of police says that the news media is misrepresenting the facts. I find that a rather tough pill to swallow consider the police have released no details about their investigation. In fact, I think it speaks volumes to the character of the police department in general that they are soliciting sympathy from the public when there are innocent people who fear for their lives daily. Don’t forget they turned a blind eye to this injustice for months.

Even further and more curious are the Chief’s statements about *his* mission statements. You see, the chief takes ownership of his words, but his rhetoric does not stand up to scrutiny.

If indeed the mission of *his* department is “protecting and assisting all people” in the community, why did it take over 12 police reports for anything to be done? Why was an officer not assigned from day one? Or day two? Or three? It took over two months. That is ‘assisting’ the people? Why then, after your generous supplementing of manpower to this vicious crime has nothing happened? Why do criminals feel safe to harass children in your streets with weapons if you are indeed doing everything you can?

It does not seem to me that the news media is reporting contrary to the evidence, but rather the chief has taken on the job of public relations officer and is now attempting to spin his department’s poor job into something more than a total abject failure. Those in charge obviously refuse to accept responsibility for their inaction — and as such they are now complicit in the abuse.

This is not the first time that the department has refused to release information. Chief Gilbert apparently hasan issue with medical marijuana, and has been aggressively targeting citizens while giving no personal explanation and as one Phoenix author put it, “is hiding behind his spokesman Sergeant Bill Balafas.”

Even more curious is the knowledge that the city of Gilbert has a $250,000 cellphone tracker that essentially acts as a false cellphone tower. It traps telephone calls. Does the lack of leads and suspects mean that not a single telephone call was made in the city limits during the attacks against this family?

The hope now for the family is that the word spreads about this injustice, and that by force of shame and self-preservation the city of Gilbert is forced to take aggressive action.

For until that time when the children can sleep soundly in their beds again the alarm bells will not be silenced and we will personally shout from the mountain tops to tell every single soul who will listen about this abuse.

Mr. Mike Fritz is a family friend and is organizing protest in support of the family. The official press release reads as follows:

On Saturday July 14th, Central and West Phoenix LBGT supporters will meet at the Bunkhouse parking lot on 7th Avenue at 8:00 AM to car pool out to the Safeway Grocery Store parking lot at 90 S Val Vista Drive at 9:00 AM to organize with East Valley Supporters.

Signs and flags will be distributed. Then the caravan will travel to the Gilbert Police Station on the corner of Warner and Gilbert Road at 10:00AM for the informational picket until Noon.
All LGBT Supporters, Civil Rights Advocates and interested parties are invited to participate in this show of support.

If you would like to schedule an interview with Felix Bermea, one of the targets of these hate Crimes, or need more information, Please call Mike Fritz at 623-202-7912 or write him at[email protected].

[Author’s note: While I am a paid journalist, it gives me no pleasure to profit from this story and I refuse to do so. Any proceeds that are generated will be donated to Bermea family.]