Explosion destroys interracial couple’s home, spurring an FBI hate crime investigation

Angela Frase holds back tears while being interviewed by a local TV station. Screen capture by Fox8 Cleveland

In what may be a shocking hate crime, the home of an interracial couple in northeast Ohio was completely destroyed in an explosion very early Wednesday morning. Investigators discovered swastikas and racist slurs on the couple’s vehicles and the remnants of the garage, The New York Times reports.

Local police, the FBI, and other agencies are investigating the horrifying incident as a possible hate crime, and fortunately, no one was in the house at the time. The explosion occurred around 1 a.m. and Angela Frase, one half of the married couple who lives there, is in complete shock, Raw Story reports.

“Total disbelief,” she said. “We’ve been here 23 years and never had a problem. I don’t know where this is coming from. Why? Why would someone target us?”

Frase, who is Black, and her husband, who is white, had been staying at a nearby hotel because they were renovating their home after an electrical fire in early July. Perhaps only one good thing came out of this tragedy — utility workers had disconnected the gas line after Tuesday because they thought they smelled gas. The electricity was also turned off, according to Fox8 Cleveland. Fortunately, this prevented an already horrible situation from becoming much worse.

“It’s a blessing…me and my husband were not here,” Frase said. “Last night I got up here, I threw up twice. I woke up this morning thinking maybe this is a dream. It’s gone, everything we own is gone. I know it can be replaced, but sentimental things, personal things you can’t get back — it’s gone.”

The couple lived at the end of a dead-end street in rural Sterling, Ohio, according to Captain Doug Hunter of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. A neighbor’s house and vehicle had also been spray-painted but if there were any words they were illegible, he said, adding that authorities weren’t aware of any security cameras that might have recorded the vandalism.

Frase added that authorities told her that the intruder may have sparked the explosion by lighting a cigarette and may have died in the blast.

There were still no suspects as of Wednesday afternoon and the State Fire Marshall’s Office will continue to investigate the scene in order to find out what caused the explosion. Frase says she has no idea who may have been involved. It’s hard for her to fathom, but she does know one thing for sure: She’s had it. Enough is enough.

“Disbelief that there’s still this much hatred in America,” she said. “We’ve been here 23 years and we’ve never had a problem and now this. We decided whatever happens we’re not rebuilding here. We’re not coming back.”

“We’re done.”

Some experts are linking President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric with a rise in hate crimes, U.S. News and World Reports notes. Trump has regularly bemoaned the “invasion of illegals,” and in his manifesto, the El Paso shooter who allegedly killed 22 people last weekend appears to have referred to “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

They note historical data suggests a link between fiery rhetoric from political leaders and increasing reports of hate crimes.

Statistics released by the FBI in late 2018 show that hate crimes showed a 17 percent jump in 2017 compared to 2016. And hate crimes have been rising steadily over the past three years. There were 7,175 hate crime incidents in 2017. Out of that number, hate crimes that were spurred by race or ethnicity, nearly half of the victims were African-American, while 11 percent were Hispanic.

We have a president who’s single-handedly fueling racism in this country. I’m old enough to remember the 1960s quite well and now it’s as if things have never changed in this country. This really is another disastrous and shameful period in American history.

Featured image courtesy of the video above