RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Police are investigating after a hateful message was spray painted on an 18-year-old's car on Delaware Avenue in the city's North Highland Park neighborhood in Richmond.
The message reads, "Gay, move, die."
Michael Bowman says he was walking outside to leave for a Halloween party when he saw the message.
"I just broke down because I didn't know what to do and I didn't feel safe in my neighborhood anymore," Bowman said.
The Richmond Police Department says the incident happened between 9:30 and 10 p.m. Tuesday. Surveillance video from a neighbor captures the brazen act.
"I've been bullied at school but nothing has ever felt this bad," said Bowman, who has lived in the house for only two months. "Before I moved in, my friends lived there, and I would visit them a lot. My car would be there, and nothing ever happened. This is the first time anything has happened like this."
Bowman tried to clean the graffiti off using acetone and paint thinner but nothing worked.
He'll have to get the car fixed at a body shop and it could cost thousands of dollars. According to Virginia Pride's president, nothing this severe has happened in years in this area.
Virginia Pride is raising money to foot the bill.
"We are definitely doing what we can to try and lift the financial burden off of Michael," said Stephanie Brown, vice president of Virginia Pride. "We're here for him and whether he knows it or not so is the community and other LGBTQ community members are also here for him."
Bowman has no idea why he was targeted, but he does have a message for the person who did this.
"Come forward. This was very cowardice of you," Bowman said.
Until the car is fixed, Bowman says he will drive around with trash bags duct taped to his car in order to cover up this message of hate
"The Richmond Police Department stands with the LGBTQ community in condemning what happened last night," said Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham. "I have directed the Department's LGBTQ liaison, Captain Dan Minton, to monitor the progress of the investigation to keep everyone informed."
Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.
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