BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Tara Palmeri and her 14-year-old daughter were at the Buffalo Sabres Pride Night game on Thursday, March 10.
Palmeri said after the first period, they wanted to buy a Pride t-shirt, but another fan heckled them out of the shop and ultimately ruined their night, so they left the game early.
"It was a great night and it totally got ruined by something that never should've happened,” Palmeri said. "He came directly behind me and was like 'you don't really need a shirt with rainbows on it, rainbows and hockey, come on.'"
Palmeri said after a few minutes, she decided to talk back.
"I asked him 'what's the big deal, rainbow and hockey, why not?' And he just kept going on and on,” Palmeri said. "It was just verbally abusive."
The Sabres said in a statement:
At the Buffalo Sabres, it is a priority that we foster an inclusive and enjoyable environment for all fans. The purpose of our annual Pride night is to celebrate diversity, equity, inclusion, and unity and it is heartbreaking to hear that an individual was met with hate, especially on such a night. We have zero tolerance for such actions. We are in communication with the family and offer our sincere condolences.
“To come up to someone and heckle them just because they're interested in purchasing a shirt or jersey or anything that's Pride memorabilia, it's just so wrong,” Palmeri said.
Palmeri said these actions send a negative message not only for her daughter, but also for everyone else who was around to hear.
"Horrifying,” Palmeri said. "It really is.”
And she said people should feel safe, no matter where they are.
"You don't have to bring somebody else down because you don't necessarily agree with what they believe in,” Palmeri said.
But what started as a bad experience is turning around; Palmeri said she is happy with the way the Sabres responded to the situation and the Sabres are inviting Palmeri and her daughter to another game of their choosing.