SUWANEE, Ga. — A couple in Suwanee had their car vandalized with a racial slur in Suwanee last Friday, according to police.
They made the discovery and called police on Friday, Feb. 26 after 9:00 p.m., Suwanee Police said.
According to the department, officers responded to the Movie Tavern at 2855 Lawrenceville Suwanee Road about property damage.
When they got there, the victims told officers they had just gotten back to their car after watching a movie to find their blue Nissan Altima had been spray-painted with the derogatory term for Asian people on their car's passenger side.
"Who would have even thought that our car would be tagged," they asked.
Sonethida Siharath said she and her husband have been part of the Suwanee community for years - she's a school teacher of 21 years, and her husband operates on machines. She said she's never had problems like this before.
Siharath said she's heard of hate crimes against Asians in California - but never imagined she would become the victim of one here in the Atlanta area.
"This is something new," she told 11Alive.
"It's shocking," she added. "Now I'm scared for my life. I've got grandkids at home. I got kids, and ... I don't know what to think."
She said she and her husband went to the movie theater after work on Friday night to watch an 8:30 showing of the new "Tom and Jerry" movie.
When they came outside a few hours later, her husband noticed the black spray paint. Siharath said they called police, but she and her husband were "trying to watch each other's backs" as they waited for police to get there. She said she hasn't been able to sleep much since.
She said the detective with the police department took their information, but so far, there have been no updates in the case. Siharath said she does hope that police find who vandalized their car, but mostly, she said she just wants to know why.
"Why would you target me?" she asked. "They're targeting us for what reasons?"
Police said one witness saw what happened, but they were only was able to provide a vague description of the suspects: they were wearing all black clothing, black masks, and black hair.
The witnesses added the suspects left in an older white 4-door sedan. It's unclear how many people were involved.
"I'm bless that they didn't break my car or do something to us while we were waiting," Siharath said.
The vandalism is part of a concerning rise in reported hate crimes against Asian Americans, who have faced a dangerous climate since the coronavirus entered the U.S. a year ago.
Instances of verbal harassment and physical assaults have occurred from coast to coast, and a recent wave of attacks on elderly Asian Americans has reignited attention and fueled worries that hostilities have only worsened.
More than 3,000 incidents - including the death of an 84-year-old San Francisco man - have been reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a California-based reporting center, since March 2020.
Meanwhile, Suwanee Police ask for any eyewitnesses that might have observed the incident to contact Detective Dawn Zaenglein at 770-904-7642.
Material from the Associated Press contributed to this report.