RICHMOND, Va. -- Police are investigating a message of hate spray painted on a car parked in Richmond's North Highland Park neighborhood.
The words “GAY MOVE DIE” were painted on the vehicle sometime between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Halloween night.
Michael Bowman said when he walked out of his home Tuesday night and spotted the hateful message he “just broke down.”
"This is 2017, I should not be having these issues,” Bowman said. “I should not feel unsafe in my own neighborhood."
The car was parked along the 3400 block of Delaware Avenue when it was targeted.
Surveillance video captured the suspect on the normally quiet street first walking past the SUV before turning to paint “GAY” on the driver’s side of the vehicle. He walked away only to return a minute later to paint “MOVE” and “DIE” before walking off.
"I was fine seeing the first word," Bowman said. "But 'MOVE,' I was like, 'No, I'm not moving.' I'm, a fighter not a quitter. Then when I saw 'DIE,' I was like, 'Why would you even write that?'"
The incident has activists in Richmond's LGBT community alarmed.
"It is a hate crime,” LGBT advocate Bill Harrison said. “A young man was targeted with ‘DIE,’ with the word ‘DIE’ because he is gay. And in this climate that we live in, every threat has to be taken seriously."
Virginia Pride President James Millner said the act was meant to spread fear.
"It's an act meant to intimidate, to drive fear into people, to drive fear into the hearts of the LGBT people in our community,” Millner said.
But for Bowman, it is not just the message, but the fact this is his parent’s vehicle.
“That's what makes it even worse because neither of us have the money to get it fixed,” Bowman.
Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
"The Richmond Police Department stands with the LGBTQ community in condemning what happened," Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said. "I have directed the Department’s LGBTQ liaison, Captain Dan Minton, to monitor the progress of the investigation to keep everyone informed."
Anyone with information was asked to call Detective Lt. Herman Loney, III at 804 646-4195 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.
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