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Alleged hate crime investigated at home of mixed-race family

A threatening note with racist insults was wrapped around a stone and hurled through a window at a Kaisertown home where a white woman lives with her black husband, Buffalo Police reported Wednesday.

The incident, at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, on Roberts Avenue, which runs off Clinton Street near Bailey Avenue, is being investigated as a potential hate crime, police said. So far, no arrests have been made.

A City Council member who represents the neighborhood said he was surprised by the alleged incident, saying many mixed-race couples live peacefully in the area.

The handwritten note was riddled with expletives, insults and racist references, and it directed the couple to “move out of the neighborhood,” according to a Facebook message posted by the woman who owns and lives in the home.

“I am deeply saddened today. In 2015, we as a people have not evolved further than this. This is the second incident of this nature,” wrote the homeowner on her Facebook account.

She added that she has worked hard to earn enough money to buy her home but is now thinking of selling it.

“I hate that I am thinking of selling it, and letting these people win,” the woman wrote. “But the reality is that someone I love could have been killed by the brick when it was launched through my window.”

Her husband still appeared to be shaken by the incident when a reporter spoke to him Wednesday afternoon.

The stone sounded “like a gunshot” when it crashed through the window about 4:30 a.m., he said.

“The stone landed between me and the dog. I didn’t know what to think,” he said, adding that he had fallen asleep watching TV on a couch. “Glass was all over the couch and floor. We were going to let the dog out, but we didn’t want it to cut its paws on the shattered glass.”

As he stood on his porch a day after the incident, looking over the cardboard and plywood he used to patch the window, he said most neighbors on the block have been cordial to his family. He said the family received “a couple” of racist notes when they first moved in, but nothing more until this week.

The homeowner, who removed her post about the incident from her Facebook account on Wednesday, declined to comment after reporters made several efforts to contact her. She also did not want her name reported in The News fearing more publicity. She works as a clerk in Buffalo’s City Court.

“We kind of want this to go away,” the woman’s husband said. “It’s a shame that this is going on in 2015.”

Police said the incident is under investigation. FBI agents are also aware of the incident, sources told The Buffalo News, but a spokeswoman in the Buffalo FBI office declined to comment.

The residents bought the home for $20,500 in March 2011, city records show.

The home is in the Lovejoy Common Council district. Lovejoy Common Council Member Richard A. Fontana said he would be surprised if there were racial incidents in the neighborhood, but added that he plans to go into the neighborhood and try to determine what happened.

“The Kaisertown neighborhood now has all kinds of mixed-race families, and I would be very surprised if someone was harassed because of it,” Fontana said. “I do plan to talk with these people myself.”

John Ignatowski, who lives down the block from the home where the incident occurred, said he heard a loud crash early Tuesday morning and thought vandals had broken a window in his car.

“I have no problem with that couple,” Ignatowski said. “This whole street is quiet. I was surprised that happened.”

There are about 20 smaller, neatly kept houses on the block, which is not far from the Niagara Thruway.

In May 2011, police reported that another married interracial Kaisertown couple were targeted by an unknown individual who scrawled racial epithets on their sidewalk in chalk. A resident told police that the vandal drew a swastika on her front sidewalk in chalk and then also wrote the “n” word and “KKK.”

A police official said there have been “about 10” calls for assistance at the Roberts Avenue home in the past year. He said most of the calls sought medical help or involved property disputes, but added that none involved criminal activity.

email: dherbeck@buffnews.com and lmichel@buffnews.com