The NYPD is investigating a hate crime that horrified neighbors on Staten Island call "quite possibly the most heinous act we've witnessed, something that catapulted us back decades of progress."
A family's car on Sneden Avenue in Annadale was found vandalized with hateful words Wednesday morning, according to police. A racial slur had been scratched into the entire hood of the car, and the words "move b----" was scratched into the trunk, photos from police show.
Neighbor Annette Siewert said she was stunned.
"The morning routine on my block is very similar for most of us," Siewert wrote on a GoFundMe page she set up for the victim and his family. "Many of us are raising school aged children. We live in a fairly nice area of Staten Island. All of us are hardworking, kind, polite and neighborly. We look out for one another."
"How naive I felt," she said.
Siewert says the victim is a "stand up guy who takes care of his family," a hard-working father of four children from 3 months old to 16 years old.
"He had to be borrow someone else's car this morning to avoid having to explain to his 9 year old what happened," said Siewart. "We are all at a loss for words."
Police spent the morning there collecting fingerprints and taking photos, according to Siewert. They told her they were able to collect four decent fingerprints, but there's no video evidence and no known witnesses.
Siewart says insurance will cover the repairs for the man's car but there is a $1,000 deductible. She set up the fundraising page for the family because "this expense is not only unexpected but it shouldn't be his responsibility."
She has been appealing to others to help because "there has to be more good than evil in this world. Let's restore his faith in humanity, together!"
By Friday morning, more than $3,000 had been raised, surpassing the $1,000 goal.
"So sorry this happened to you," one donor wrote. "It is sickening."
"I am so sorry another human being would do this to you and your family. It makes my heart hurt," wrote another.
"May the kindness of others help heal the pain of this horrendous act."
Siewart said in an update that local auto shop JoJo's Auto has offered to fix the car at no cost to the victim: "They, like the rest of us, have no tolerance for this kind of behavior."
"That being said, I'm going to keep this going to donate to the family as a vacation fund," she wrote. "I know this won't make the major problem go away. And we're still hoping justice will be served. Hopefully this will make it just a tiny bit easier to get through it all."
The NYPD says its hate crimes task force is investigating. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at nypdcrimestoppers.com.