Renton brewery hosting 'Drag Queen Story Time' shot at, police investigating it as a hate crime

Renton Police are investigating a shooting at Brewmaster's Taproom as a hate crime. Thankfully, the only damage sustained was a shattered window, but the owner and several patrons believe the shooting was tied to the brewery hosting a "Drag Queen Story Time." 

Owner Marley Rall says she’s had a few nasty calls and emails each time leading up to the monthly event, but has never seen this level of aggression.

"We’re still going to do what we do," Rall said.

The 37-year-old entrepreneur partnered with Sylvia, a drag queen, about a year and a half ago following the pandemic.

Her hope was to provide an educational and inclusive space for families in her community.

"My goal at the end of the day is that we are letting somebody read a book to children and they are having a fun afternoon and that’s all we’ve ever wanted to do and that’s all we’re planning on doing and it’s what we’ll continue to do," Rall said.

Sylvia says she’s determined to not let her fear get in the way of sparking conversations and exposing children to different people.

"I'm not going to stop for fear and ignorance and other people. I'd rather die doing what I love than just sit home, being bored and afraid," Sylvia said.

Some are now planning to protest the reading scheduled for Saturday.

Founder of the Conservative Ladies of Washington, Julie Barrett, shared her opinion on social media. 

FOX 13 reached out to her via Zoom, and she said, "I am opposed to children exposed to drag queens."

Barrett, like some parents, have questioned why children are being exposed to adult entertainment at a brewery.

"We blur the boundary for children of what is appropriate and is not appropriate sexual behavior. I think they can learn about people loving who they want to in a way that’s not sexualized," Barrett said.

Her fear is children are being groomed.

"Yes, we're grooming them to be educated and to be open-minded," Sylvia said in response.

Ben Oliver, one of the regular patrons, said he’s going to show up Saturday and support his local brewery.

"Why protest something when it's an option? It's up to you if you want to come or not. If you want to bring your kids, do. And if you don’t, don’t," Oliver said.  

Oliver has been coming to the Brewmaster’s Taproom since they opened their doors. For the last year and a half, story time has become an educational family outing with his two sons, three and eight-years-old, and his wife.

"People are mad that we do drag queen story time," Oliver told his son.

"If people are mad, why don’t they just leave," his son, Smith Oliver, said.

His son bluntly questioned why one of his favorite past times, Drag Queen Story Time, is under attack.

"She’s phenomenal. Totally clean, family-friendly. My kids love it," Oliver said of Drag Queen Story Time and Sylvia.  

He says she’s helped spark healthy conversations with his children.  

"My oldest boy is like ‘is it okay to dress up?’ ‘I’m like absolutely, you do what you feel comfortable doing, ‘Is it okay to love another man?’ Absolutely it is, ‘Is it okay to love women?’ Of course, it is," Oliver said.

What was once a safe and inclusive space for him and his family, he fears was targeted.

"It’s a hate crime," Oliver said.  

"It's always kind of a sad reality that something like this could happen," Sylvia said.

"The call for a protest isn't to target the LGBTQ community. It is to protect children," Barrett said.

The Taproom has spoken with Renton Police and City Council and will still hold Drag Queen Story Time on Saturday, taking a stand they hope is heard loud and clear.

They said police have set up surveillance cameras and will stand vigilant as a protest and counterprotests are held.

Rall says story time will continue to be a safe and inclusive space for children every month.