ARLINGTON, Texas — Police in Arlington, Texas on Wednesday announced they have identified five suspects in connection with a crime spree earlier this month that included nearly a dozen incidents of anti-gay graffiti.
On the night of June 9, the suspects allegedly damaged 13 properties in an Arlington neighborhood; all of the suspects are teenagers, ranging in age from 16 to 18 years old.
One of those was the home of a family headed by a same-sex couple. The back of the couple’s car included a sticker of two moms, a child, and a dog. The suspects spray-painted “faggot” and “queers” in large letters over the back of the vehicle.
Police said that while there were several victims in the case, they believe the lesbian couple was intentionally targeted because of their sexual orientation.
It is the correlation between the bumper sticker and the anti-LGBT slurs that police say indicates a hate crime.
Texas law prohibits hate crimes based on sexual orientation but not gender identity. It includes property crimes as well as violent crimes.
“We are committed in Arlington to prevent all crime especially crime that was committed for no other reason than possibly toward hatred,” said Acting Police Chief Will Johnson. “We want to send a strong message to the community that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”
Police said one of the suspects, 18-year-old Daniel Sibley of Arlington, was arrested Tuesday afternoon; the four other suspects in the case are expected to be taken into custody soon.
All of the suspects will be charged with Graffiti between $1,500-$20,000, a crime that is a felony in Texas, said officials.
“It’s commendable that the Arlington PD responded to this crime so quickly and thoroughly, and that they are not turning a blind eye to the anti-LGB factors involved – in fact quite the opposite,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, in a statement.
“This is a shining example of law enforcement officials doing the right thing, and working diligently to ensure all members of the community they serve feel safe and protected,” he said.