2 accused in damage to house

Police say vandalism was act of revenge, `not a hate crime'

Minister's home attacked

Incident said to arise from dispute over son's recent breakup

October 16, 2001|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

A man and a woman have been charged with vandalizing an African-American minister's house in Gambrills, police said yesterday. Although the destruction helped prompt county officials to pledge a renewed fight against racially motivated crimes, investigators determined that the vandalism of the minister's house was not a hate crime.

The vandalism Aug. 5 was an act of revenge arising from a dispute between the Rev. David Queen's son Wesley and the sister of Wesley Queen's ex-girlfriend, county police said.

Expletives, threats, a racial slur, the letters "KKK" and the numbers "666" (a symbol associated with satanism) were spray-painted on the house to mislead investigators, police said.

"All of the racial elements were done to divert attention from who was actually responsible," said Officer Charles Ravenell, a police spokesman. "It was not a hate crime."

Police charged Maurice Williams, 20, of Laurel and Teba Coates, 21, of Camp Springs with destruction of property valued at more than $500, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

On Wednesday, Williams was served with a summons to appear in court on the charges. Coates was charged Thursday, police said yesterday. No court date has been set.

According to charging documents filed in District Court, Wesley Queen was the target of the vandalism because of a recent break-up with his girlfriend. The two, who have a child, had been living together, but Queen moved back to his parents' house, according to court records.

Coates is the sister of Queen's ex-girlfriend, the court papers say. Both suspects are black, according to court records.

A woman who witnessed the vandalism told detectives that Coates and Williams, her boyfriend, vandalized the house, sidewalk and car, threw eggs at the house and slashed the car's tires, police said.

Police say the destruction is not connected to other acts of vandalism in the county that are being investigated as hate crimes, including the looting and desecration of a Lothian church's food pantry in August and the vandalism of an Edgewater house that an African-American family was planning to buy.

Police also are investigating an incident in which racist and anti-Semitic graffiti were found in two houses under construction in Churchton last month.

County prosecutors formed a task force in August to investigate and prosecute hate crimes. County officials met with black community leaders and hate-crime victims last month to discuss ways to deal with the issue.

Two weeks ago, officials from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. attorney general's office met with county officials to talk about how to prevent hate crimes. County officials plan to meet next month to explore how agencies such as the school system and Police Department can work together to address the problem, said Curt Toler, the county's criminal justice coordinator.

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