Some people who live in Lakeside and East County say they're not surprised that the stabbing of a 16-year-old Black girl may have been racially motivated.
Activists and members of the community took aim at the San Diego County Sheriff's Department during a town hall at the Lakeside Community Center Tuesday night.
The conversation centered around a stabbing that occurred on April 16 at an apartment complex on Mapleview Street. the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said an unidentified teen girl was stabbed in the back when confronted by a group of teenagers who hurled racial slurs at the girl and her family during the confrontation.
Pictures show the gaping wounds that she survived.
“This was almost a murder,” shouted a man toward Lt. Shawn Wray, who took questions during the meeting.
Members of the town hall were left wondering why the teenage suspect's dad wasn't arrested when there are claims he was at the crime scene.
"Let’s go after this punk's parents,” said Lakeside resident Judy Jensven. “They learn this hate somewhere.”
A 16-year-old neighbor was arrested Monday, according to sheriff's deputies. Detectives are also investigating whether the suspect's father was part of the crowd that confronted the girl and her family while hurling racial slurs at them.
"You’re setting a dangerous [expletive] precedent if you don’t arrest the father,” shouted someone in the crowd.
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Another added: “While you investigate, he should be in jail.”
Deputies are investigating the stabbing as a possible hate crime.
Wray said there have been 10 hate crimes investigated in Lakeside since 2019, including one so far this year.
Community activists and some residents said there's a history of racial issues in East County.
"It's a running joke that East County is racist," said Danielle Wilkerson of the East County BIPOC Coalition. "You've heard Klantee, you’ve heard White Hills, all the things people put a layer of humor on, but that racism is real and alive, and we had a victim this week."
Deputies said they're working to expose racist organizations in the county, noting that the town hall meeting is a perfect example of the department taking reports of hate crimes seriously.
The 16-year-old stabbing suspect is facing attempted murder and hate crime charges. He’s scheduled to be in juvenile court Thursday. His girlfriend was also arrested but was released despite allegedly waving a weapon around.
A spokesperson for the Woodglen Apartments gave NBC 7 this statement:
“We have a zero-tolerance policy towards violence of any kind, and we stand firmly against any acts of hate. Our top priority is our community’s safety and well-being and we are actively assisting the ongoing investigation.”