An 18-year-old woman told authorities she slashed the tires on an SUV after she spotted a “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hat inside the vehicle, police said Wednesday.
Phoenix Police Department spokesman Sgt. Vincent Lewis told the Arizona Republic on Wednesday that the woman said she slashed the vehicle’s tire “because she saw a hat with a political message inside the vehicle which she disagreed with.”
The owner of the vehicle, Nick Dugas, discovered his tire was slashed after he drove away from the Paradise Valley Mall parking lot.
Dugas, who works as a retail security manager, checked the surveillance footage of the parking lot to find four women reportedly peering into his SUV to look at the Trump campaign-issued red cap sitting on the console.
Several minutes later, the women returned to their car before the driver and a woman in the front passenger seat exited the vehicle. The front passenger surveyed the parking lot while the driver crouched down next to Dugas’s vehicle, according to the surveillance footage.
The footage reportedly showed the SUV drop down on its left side shortly before the women in the video fled the scene.
Dugas said it cost him $300 to replace the damaged tire, and he could not attend his mother’s birthday dinner because he had to deal with the property damage.
“No one has a right to destroy property because they don’t agree with someone else,” Dugas told the Republic. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine being the victim of pure hate because of my belief.”
Dugas provided a statement to be used in court stating that despite how much trouble the incident caused him, he wanted to forgive the woman:
In this case, the right thing to do is to forgive you rather than spill hatred onto you like you did to me. Rather than wish upon you the same fear you wished upon me that day. But I really hope that you are listening. Just because I have a different yet equally as important view as you do, it doesn’t EVER give you the right to spew hate, cause fear, and interrupt someone else’s life.
Police said the woman has not been identified because she was only cited for the crime and did not go through the booking procedure that usually takes place during an arrest.
The suspect accused of slashing the tire was cited for one Class 2 misdemeanor count of criminal damage and is due back in court in late March. If convicted, she could spend four months in jail and have to pay $750 in fines.
Crimes against Trump supporters have become commonplace, with perpetrators often using a person’s Trump campaign-issued gear or political viewpoint as a reason to attack that person.
Breitbart News reported Wednesday that there were 334 reported hate crimes against President Trump’s supporters since September 2015. This tire-slashing incident would bring the total to 335 reported crimes against Trump supporters.
The incident is also the second reported case of violence against the president’s supporters in the past week. Police are investigating a school bus aide after a surveillance video released Friday allegedly showed her yanking a MAGA hat off of a student’s head.