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Vandalism of Peyton home with racial slurs, feces is being investigated as a hate crime

February 6, 2017 Updated: February 7, 2017 at 12:53 pm
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photo - The vandalism of a Peyton home Sunday is now being investigated as a hate crime. (Courtesy KKTV)
The vandalism of a Peyton home Sunday is now being investigated as a hate crime. (Courtesy KKTV) 

The vandalism of a Peyton home Sunday is now being investigated as a hate crime.

The FBI, which took over the case, is looking for the people responsible for smearing dog feces across a couple's garage, peppering the home with about 40 eggs, and posting about 50 hate messages and racial slurs. No suspects have yet been identified, FBI Detective Greg Young said Monday.

Young declined to give details about the case.

Gazette news partner KKTV talked to the homeowner, agreeing to only identify him by first name: Saravanan. He said neighbors alerted him to the vandalism early Sunday morning. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office said they were called to the home on White Sands Court about 7:30 a.m.

About 10 percent of the messages left behind were racial slurs, Saravanan told KKTV.

"'You brown or Indian shouldn't be here,' something like that," he paraphrased some of the estimated 50 signs posted to his home and vehicle. "So it was frightening."

He declined to speak with The Gazette Monday, asking for privacy.

El Paso County property records show the home is owned by Saravanan Arunachalam, who bought the one-story ranch house in February 2015. Previously, he lived in Colorado Springs for 11 years, public records show.

Saravanan told KKTV, "I have no idea" why his family was targeted.

The incident comes at a time when the country is at odds over immigration and refugee programs.

In January, President Donald Trump issued an order barring for 90 days people from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. He also banned all refugees for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely.

The move immediately sparked opposition across the U.S. In Colorado Springs, residents marched on City Hall Saturday for the Stand With Our Muslim and Immigrant Neighbors Rally.

A federal judge in Seattle has since temporarily blocked Trump's order, reopening America's doors, but the president has said he will appeal that decision.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said their headquarters in Washington, D.C. "has noted an unprecedented spike in hate incidents targeting Muslims and other minority groups since the Nov. 8 election." A soon-to-be published CAIR report on Islamophobia in America also is expected to show that 2016 was the worst year on record for incidents in which mosques were targets of bias.

Local numbers don't show the same increase.

Incidents of "biased motivated crimes" handled by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office have gone down in the past three years, according to statics provided by the office.

In 2015, deputies handled six cases, involving theft, tampering, harassment and criminal mischief, the office said. In 2016, there were two cases of criminal mischief, and so far in 2017 there has only been the lone case of criminal mischief, the office said.

Colorado Springs police didn't have numbers readily available Monday.

Still, hate crimes are popping up in Colorado and getting attention.

Following Trump's election, a transgender woman in Denver found her car painted with a swastika and the words "DIE" and "TRUMP" and "FAG" among other insults. In Colorado Springs, the Cheyenne Mountain Junior High School principal sent parents a warning letter after a number of fights at the school involving a Jewish student and anti-Semitism, and a slew of racial and ethnic slurs.

CAIR condemned the attacks Monday.

"Our nation's leaders - at the highest levels - need to address the growing bigotry we are witnessing around the country in the post-election period," CAIR National Communication Director Ibrahim Hooper said in an emailed statement Monday.

Saravanan said the experience at his house has left his family shaken.

"No physical damage; that mental damage is there. It will be there ... at least for a while," he told KKTV in an on-camera interview in which he declined to have his face shown.

Despite the act of hate, Saravanan said his neighbors are showing support and compassion. Some came together Sunday to help clean his house, he told KKTV.

"It was a mixed message in on one side we see this kind of thing happening, and on the other side, we have really good people and helping us all the time," Saravanan told KKTV. "I want to thank God for giving us good neighbors, and I hope this thing doesn't continue in the future."

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Contact Kaitlin Durbin: 636-0362

Twitter: @njKaitlinDurbin

Facebook: Kaitlin Durbin

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