12-year-old girl responsible for racist graffiti in Geneva, police say

July 26, 2019 11:20 PM

GENEVA, N.Y. (WHEC) -- The information you are about to read-- shocked the newsroom. 

Within a two-month period, Geneva Police learned of three racially motivated incidents. On Friday, police told News10NBC the suspect is a 12-year-old girl.


So, News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean went to Geneva to find out how police tracked her down. 

Police discovered a swastika and the phrase "white power" spray-painted on a garage door on Elm Street. The incident wasn't formally reported until June 6. Then, around July 15, police found two swastikas spray-painted on the side of the Mt. Calvary Church of God and Christ on Milton Street. 

The most recent incident was discovered Wednesday when police say another swastika was found on the outside wall of the Geneva Armory

The graffiti on the church was painted over. But you can tell what it was. 

When police asked for tips, the chief says they didn't get a single one. He says it was information developed by investigators in his office and the Ontario County Sheriff's Office that led them to the 12-year-old.

Chief Michael J. Passalacqua: "Raises a lot of questions."

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: 'What questions?" 

Passalacqua: "Just as a person, a human being, how does this happen? When does it develop?" 

Police believe both the graffiti found on the church and the garage were created around the same time in June but it wasn't until recently when the third incident was discovered on the Geneva Armory. 

Pastor Terrance Simmons: "Even though you don't know what the young person may be being taught or what their influences are, it's still a child. " 

Terrance Simmons is a pastor. News10NBC met him Friday in Henrietta.

Brean: "Does it matter how old she is?" 

Simmons: "I think that, for me, it does. Because when you're talking about a child, you're talking about someone whose influences change. Mind sets change. They may come down the road and meet somebody that changes that, that thought process." 

Brean: "Are you gonna talk about this on Sunday?"

Simmons: "Of course."

Brean: "What's the message, the sermon going to be?"

Simmons: "I'm not sure what the message and sermon is going to be but I'm sure that it's something about we are able to overcome this, you know?" 

This case is going to be in family court. 

News10NBC asked the chief if he got the girl to explain why this happened.

He said he couldn't say. He did say the evidence they found in her family home is sufficient to charge a hate crime in Geneva.


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