A man being kicked out of a downtown Santa Rosa bar for making derogatory comments to lesbian and gay patrons pulled out a gun and shot and wounded an employee, a Santa Rosa police sergeant said Wednesday.

The shooter remained at large.

The 23-year-old employee was hit once in the stomach while standing on the sidewalk outside of the Epic Social Lounge on Mendocino Avenue, Sgt. Dave Linscomb said.

The victim, who wasn't identified, underwent surgery and was expected to live, Linscomb said.

Epic staff were holding a special Pride Night celebration and have called the shooting a "hate crime," according to a Facebook post on the nightclub's page.

"We stand strong and continue to support the Gay Community and have a zero tolerance on violence," the online statement said.

Linscomb said it was too early in the investigation to determine whether the shooting was a hate crime, but said the man was being bounced from the bar for making anti-gay and lesbian comments.

The shooting happened at about 1:15 a.m., just outside the front door.

"The employee got him out to the sidewalk and the guy pulled out his handgun, put it at close range to the employee and shot him with it," said Linscomb.

After firing a single shot he ran, heading west from the lounge near the heart of downtown Santa Rosa.

Bar employees weren't familiar with the man. Detectives Wednesday were following leads but had no name and only a vague description, that the suspect was a long-haired Latino man in his 20s.

Linscomb asked anyone with information about the man contact detectives at 543-3590.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com.