UPDATE: Police told 8News they have filed felony vandalism charges against three students — two from Godwin H.S. and another from Freeman H.S. — in connection with their investigation.
HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Racist graffiti found spray-painted at Godwin High School has led police to an investigation into a possible hate crime.
Henrico Police responded to a call at around 6:00 a.m. in the 2100 block of Pump road. Upon arrival, police found that ‘the content of the vandalism is concerning.’
‘KKK forever’ and ‘you will die’ are just some of the hate-filled vandalism that covered multiple sides of the high school.
Detectives are investigating the potential of this being a hate crime. Officers added that they are unaware if this vandalism is related to what was found in the area of Regency Mall.
Henrico County Public Schools said they communicated directly with the Godwin High School staff and parent community.
HCPS Communications Director Andy Jenks told 8News they let parents know they are aware and responding to the vandalism.
“The images are hateful, disgusting and have zero place in society,” Jenks said. “We condemn these acts in the strongest terms.”
Jenks added that the school is reviewing video footage, meeting at school with the Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond in order to share information and updates about the situation.
HCPS also said they want to assure the community that whoever is responsible for the vandalism will face both law enforcement and school administration.
“When we find the person or people responsible for this, they’ll be dealt with to the fullest possible extent,” Jenks said.
Jenks told 8News that the school’s security cameras caught ‘something’ they’re now analyzing.
“Because the investigation is ongoing, we’ll fall a little short of saying exactly it is,” Jenks added.
The Henrico County School Board chair John W. Motgomery, Jr., expressed disgust and disappointment in a statement on behalf of the school board on Monday:
“I join my colleagues on the Board in expressing our disappointment and disgust for the acts of vandalism discovered Sunday at Godwin High School as well as those discovered last Friday in neighborhoods near Freeman High School. Hate, intolerance and threats to the physical and emotional well-being of our school communities are unacceptable and contrary to our core values as a school system and society.
At the same time, this Board and our dedicated faculty and staff stand encouraged by the tremendous show of community support in response to these acts. We appreciate the families and organizations that have offered their hand in partnership, including the Henrico branch of the NAACP, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, and many other families and community-minded citizens. On behalf of the entire School Board, I say ‘thank you’.
We must also thank Henrico Police for their tireless efforts to investigate this matter and to increase their visibility in the neighborhoods near several schools this week. Our schools are safe because of the tremendous work done every day by the men and women of Henrico Police.”
While crews have since cleaned graffiti a mom of a recent Godwin graduate told 8News the language and words spray-painted earlier that it’s very concerning and sad to see.
“People in the neighborhood should be able to feel as though they can just walk around and not have to be exposed to this kind of a problem,” said Deborah Ward, the mom of a recent Godwin graduate.
Ben Lynch, also a recent graduate from Godwin, said he’s shocked that “someone would do that to a school that has been a part of my life since basically I was a kid.”
“I can’t believe someone would do,” he added. “It’s just terrible.”
Henrico Police say they will be increasing patrol in the area.
The investigation is ongoing and police can’t say if they have any suspects at this time.
Anyone with information should reach out to use at 501-5000 or call Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.
Stay with 8News for updates.