The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a hate crime after a white family was targeted with racist vandalism and arson which authorities say stemmed from an interracial relationship.
The family’s minivan was spray-painted with a swastika and several racial epithets, according to Maj. Richard Lewis, a spokesman for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. Another family vehicle was set on fire.
The family’s 14-year-old daughter was in a relationship with an African-American teenager, Lewis said.
“This case is being investigated as a hate crime,” Lewis said in a news release Wednesday afternoon. “The (State Bureau of Investigation) has been contacted and briefed on the case and the investigation.”
Deputies were alerted at 6:22 a.m. Dec. 27 about a vehicle fire and vandalism on White Oak Drive in Goldsboro, Lewis said. Investigators think the incident took place overnight.
Amanda Miller, the girl’s mother, told ABC11, The News & Observer’s media partner, that her daughter met the boy in church..
“It just makes your heart sink,” Miller told the TV station. “I’ve always tried to instill in her be friends with who is good to you. Like who is good to you. It doesn’t (matter) what color somebody is and it doesn’t (matter) what race they are.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement Wednesday condemning the crime.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the group, told The News & Observer that he did not know if the African-American teen was Muslim.
“We don’t restrict ourselves in these types of bigoted attacks to Muslims,” he said. “What we have seen since the era of Donald Trump is bigotry that targets different groups and we speak out for all of them.”
Hate crimes in North Carolina increased 12 percent in 2017, following a nationwide trend, according to data from the FBI previously reported by The N&O.
Lewis, the sheriff’s spokesman, said the investigation is ongoing.
“We are following leads as they become available,” he said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Scott Peele at 919-731-1484 or Wayne County CrimeStoppers at 919-735-2255.