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Agoura High School student suspected in racist graffiti scrawled on campus

May 16, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A student may be responsible for two incidents of vandalism involving graffiti targeting African-American students at Agoura High School.

On Sunday, racially derogatory graffiti was found painted on the walls of the school. Officials painted over Sunday's graffiti without warning parents. But the culprit struck again Wednesday and targeted five specific African American students in a so-called "hit list" painted in the boy's bathroom. The latest writing on the wall claimed the five students would be the first to die.

Larry Misel, Agoura High School's principal, doesn't believe the messages left across campus Sunday and Wednesday were racially motivated. Misel said one theory being investigated is the possibility a student could be responsible for the graffiti.

"We do not believe this has anything specifically to do with a racial incident, but rather a motivation for somebody to get what they thought they needed," said Misel.

Officials believe the student was trying to create the perception of a hostile environment at Agoura High School. The student was trying to get around CIF regulations so that he or she could transfer to another school to play sports.

Augora High School has a population of over 2,100 students. Officials say 31 of those students are African-American.

For the first time, many African-American students at Agoura High School say they feel uncomfortable going to school.

"It doesn't feel right coming but I start testing today so I can't miss school but I hope it doesn't get out of hand," said Lamar Patterson.

Parent Ron Cash says his son was not on the list but is still upset he wasn't notified by the school after finding the racial slurs Sunday.

The district superintendent says the L.A. County Sheriff's Department asked them not to tell parents about the initial graffiti.

It was only when the so called "hit list" targeting African-American students was discovered inside the boy's bathroom Wednesday that parents were notified.

"We felt that was inappropriate," said Cash. "We felt if you have something that's written on the wall that is that horrible, you should communicate to the parents and let them know."

The investigation is ongoing. Officials say they're working on obtaining surveillance video that may give investigators clues on the suspect or suspects responsible.

"Some of that is being enhanced right now so we can figure out a little bit more about who was here," said Misel. "It appears they were completely covered. They were wearing masks, white gloves, etc."

Parent Gina Aubrey says all parents, no matter what race, should be concerned.

"A threat to one group is a threat to all the kids and to the safety of everyone here at the school," said Aubrey.

Students are as equally appalled by the graffiti.

"I think it's horrible, the fact that five people are going to come to school today, or potentially not, and feel threatened," said Vincent Parra.

"I never knew growing up as a little kid that I would have to deal with something like this," said Patterson.

Many students say their school has no room for people who perpetuate such hate and say they will stand behind those who now may feel uncomfortable at school.

Law enforcement has responded with an increased security presence on and around campus.

The school, however, will remain open and classes will proceed as scheduled.

No arrests have been made. Investigators are following several leads including the possible student. A $1000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect.


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