Authorities ask for public’s help to identify vandal who spray-painted slurs at San Dieguito Academy
The incident drew demands for the district to root out racism and discrimination
Authorities on Thursday, Jan. 6, asked the public to help identify a vandal who spray-painted racial and homophobic slurs at San Dieguito Academy High School in Encinitas on New Year’s Day.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and Crime Stoppers released grainy photos of the vandal — who was wearing a mask, a red hoodie, dark jeans and dark shoes — and announced a $1,000 reward for information that leads to that person’s arrest.
The incident drew a wave of condemnation. About 150 people — students, parents and other community members — on Monday, Jan. 3, rallied at the high school, where they called on the district to root out racism and discrimination.
Authorities have said that according to surveillance video, the vandal walked on campus about 4 a.m. with a can of spray paint in hand and painted the slurs on the outside of a building. The incident caused $725 in damage, officials said.
A detailed description of the vandal was not available — it is difficult to see the person’s face because of the hoodie and mask — but San Dieguito Union High School District Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward has said officials believe it was a young person based on the person’s movements.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Paul Michalke said Thursday, Jan. 6, that investigators had no solid leads, but he was hopeful that would change when classes resume next week after a holiday break.
“Hopefully next week we’ll be able to get some more information,” he said.
The incident marked the third that cast a spotlight on the district, which serves 13,000 middle and high school students, most of whom are White. At Torrey Pines High School last month, swastikas were found painted in a boys’ restroom. At San Dieguito Academy in November, a racial slur was spray-painted on campus.
“We know there’s a problem, but we are working to address it,” James-Ward said in an interview after the most recent incident. “We know we won’t change overnight, but we are on the road and will continue on this road.”
Anyone with information about the suspect was asked to call sheriff’s Detective Monica De La Torre Chavez at (760) 966-3504 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.
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