A fire destroyed Catawba, North Carolina home Friday night, and authorities are investigating it as a hate crime. The nearby Newton Observer News Enterprise takes it from there:
Melvin Whistlehunt was at work when he got a call from his mother at 2:30 a.m. Friday that his home was engulfed in flames. As firefighters began hosing down the house at 1275 Buffalo Shoals Road, it became clear the home was set on fire intentionally. What they found launched an immediate hate crime investigation.
The fire was intense, but it didn’t keep Jason Drum, chief of the Bandys Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department, from noticing graffiti written across the back of the brick home within five minutes of arrival. Someone used white spray paint to write a derogatory message referring to sexual orientation and race.
Drum asked Whistlehunt’s mother, who lives next door, if the graffiti had been there. She told him it was new.
Whistlehunt said everyone who knows him is aware he’s gay, but few people have outwardly criticized him for it. “I don’t know of anybody who would go this far,” he said.