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Racist vandalism drives Duarte family out

May 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Duarte family fled their home after discovering threatening hate messages scrawled inside the house. The couple and their three young children are staying away while investigators try to figure out who's to blame.It happened on Broach Avenue in Duarte. Officials won't say which house because they feel the family has suffered enough. The inside of the home was vandalized with racial slurs and gang symbols spray-painted everywhere.

"I can tell you it was hateful, it was spiteful, it was cowardly," said Brian Villalobos, Duarte director of public safety. "Everything that you can imagine."

The residents are an African-American family with three young children. They came home to find the destruction and several items stolen.

Neighbors say they hadn't heard about it..

"I've been here for 16 years and the way I am, if I came home and saw this all over my walls, I would not leave my home," said neighbor Cristina Vasquez. "I would not let these people chase me out of the home that I have built for my family."

"This is real life, man, this neighborhood is not a place for kids," said neighbor Larry Pickett. "It's not a safe place to live."

Pickett says there are gang problems in Duarte. He claims he was shot in the leg in a drive-by shooting.

"In front of my house," said Pickett. "It was my cousin's birthday. He just turned 2 years old. We were just hanging outside, there was nothing but kids under the age of 10 years old and they went down the street, came back up and started shooting and shot me in the leg."

The family meanwhile is so concerned about all of this that they're sequestered in an undisclosed hotel and officials say they plan to relocate out of the city of Duarte.

"I would understand why the family's afraid at this point," said Duarte Mayor John Fasana. "This is a very personal attack on them and their space and their privacy so I can see why they're afraid. They have my apologies on behalf of the city and as mayor of the city I'm deeply offended, deeply sorry that this occurred."

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department is investigating this as a hate crime. So far they don't have any suspects.

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