TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE
FBI joins investigation into Tucson hate crime
Tucson, AZ - The FBI is now leading the investigation of a Tucson hate crime. The home of two Jewish people on the northwest side was the target of vandals who placed a chemical device, a firebomb, tagged walls, and even left behind small dead animals, says the Pima County Sheriff's department.
It happened at the Casas Del Oro community off Magee Road near Shannon Road. The homeowners called 911 just before 5:00 Sunday morning when they couldn't get out of their home. Deputies say it was surrounded by dangerous material, which brought out the bomb squad, a fire hazmat team and even the FBI's weapons of mass destruction response team.
"Apparently somebody was trying to do some damage to these people," said Bob Bishop, who lives in the gated community.
The Pima County Sheriff's Department says foam had been sprayed on both the garage and front door, sealing them shut. The bomb squad also found a type of firebomb device in front of the home and a chemical dispersal device behind the home. Plus, several small dead animals on the doorstep and tagging on the walls. A neighbor tells us it was profanity written in Spanish.
"That in connection with some of the other things they found all are pointing to maybe a hate crime," said Deputy Dawn Barkman with PCSD.
But it affected the whole neighborhood when a cloud of gas formed over the area. Some neighbors were evacuated, others told to keep their windows and doors closed. Deputies say the chemical was chlorine mixed with an unknown substance.
"We've asked residents in this area to stay indoors, refrain from outdoor activities," Barkman said.
"This is obviously a targeted deal. This is not something that just happened," Bishop said.
James Redzinak delivers papers in the community everyday, early in the morning. He says he didn't see anything and can't see why anyone would target the area.
"Especially in a gated community, it makes me wonder if we're really safe anywhere," Redzinak said.
That's why he'll keep an extra eye on the neighborhood in the days to come.
"It just kind of makes me sick to think that somebody would target anybody based on race or anything else," said Redzinak.
We still don't know anything about the suspects or a motive. Detectives are still deep in the investigation. We do know that the gas cloud put five residents in the hospital, but we're told they're expected to be OK.
The FBI is now the lead agency in this crime.
According to Marana Police the couple was vandalized back in November when they were living in Dove Mountain, but the police were never able to prove it was a hate crime.
The victims have returned to their home and are now trying to clean up the mess left behind.