BERMUDA DUNES – An early morning blaze was contained and is being investigated as a hate crime based on racial slurs.
Early Monday morning, Riverside Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the residential blaze in the 78800 block of Avenue 42, Bermuda Dunes. Upon the deputies’ arrival, they were informed by fire personnel that the fire was likely arson.
The fire, which had engulfed one unit of a duplex, was knocked down in about 30 minutes and contained to one unit, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Rick Griggs said. There was smoke in both units when firefighters arrived, but fire personnel reported that it was only drift smoke in the second unit.
The residence was reported to have been vacant since last Monday’s torrential rains. The units had suffered from flood damage and been abandoned. According to Sergeant Randy Vasquez, graffiti referring to a specific ethnic group was located at the premises.
The Desert Sun reported that a derogatory word toward blacks was scrawled in what appeared to be red spray paint on the garage of the home. However, the Desert Sun also reported that the owners of the property noted that the word had been misspelled and they did not feel that it was intended as a hate crime.
However, Thermal Station Investigators will be investigating the incident as a possible hate crime / arson with the assistance of Cal-Fire. The Riverside Sheriff’s Department is asking for anyone with information regarding this crime to call Investigator Burgie at the Sheriff’s Thermal Station at 760-863-8990 or Sheriff’s Dispatch at 760-836-3215 and refer to case # C14 258 0002.