Possible hate crime being investigated in Goodyear

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by Kristine Harrington

azfamily.com

Posted on January 24, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 24 at 6:20 PM

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Police are investigating a possible hate crime in a Goodyear neighborhood and searching for suspects.

It happened near 160th Avenue and Elwood Street.

Neighbors woke up Friday morning to find vulgar hate speech spray-painted all along a perimeter wall.

“In this day and time, I don't think this should be going on,” said Victor Nweabi, who feels targeted by the possible hate crime. “I feel sad, to be frank with you, really sad.”

Nweabi has lived in this West Valley neighborhood for several years. In the last couple weeks, he has had the tires on three of his vehicles slashed.

"Go back to Africa" and "sell your house" were among the messages Nweabi saw painted on the wall Friday morning.

“I'm from Africa myself, and seeing that kind of graffiti on your wall is really scary,” Nweabi said. “Actually, I think it's a hate crime. Clearly somebody doesn't want us in the neighborhood.”

Nweabi said it was difficult to explain the vandalism to his son.

“I was taking my son to school this morning and he saw that and he was like, ‘Dad, who is writing that kind of stuff on the wall? What makes that person think to write that stuff on the wall?' And he's just 11 years old,” Nweabi said.

He says he didn't have a good answer for his son, and other neighbors are also at a loss for words.

“This neighborhood is very inclusive,” John Holyk said. “Every race and every color lives here; everybody gets along. We’ve never had any problems. We have block parties and have never had any problems.”

But now, it's not only Nweabi and his family feeling harassed. Some of the graffiti was aimed at police.

“It's really affecting people that live in this neighborhood,” Holyk said. “Just cut it out. You want to spray paint something, spray paint your house. But don't come over here and cost everybody a whole bunch of money and cause a whole bunch of grief and make people upset and bring people to tears because you have a problem.”

The city of Goodyear has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to graffiti and immediately covered it up.

Meanwhile, detectives are going door-to-door in the neighborhood, hoping to make an arrest before the situation escalates.

“I hope it stops. I hope they catch them,” said concerned neighbor Alisa Needler. “I want it gone. I don't want it in my neighborhood anymore.”

“I've seen some bad graffiti but nothing like that,” Nick Phipps said. “I'm just hoping the guy who did this gets caught because there's no room for racism like that in this world.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Goodyear Police Department.

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