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Authorities investigating possible anti-gay hate crime in northwestern Forsyth County

NORTHWEST FORSYTH — Authorities say they are treating the burning of a rainbow flag on a vehicle at a northwestern Forsyth County home as an anti-gay hate crime.

According to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, persons unknown also ignited gasoline sometime overnight Monday to damage the front lawn of the residence in a neighborhood off Hurt Bridge Road.

“From the beginning, we’re treating it as an obvious hate crime … because previously the house had an American flag flying and just on Friday they changed it to a rainbow flag,” said Robin Regan, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

Friday morning marked the sweeping ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that immediately legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Georgia was not one of the 37 states where it was previously allowed.

The homeowner, who was not physically harmed, reported the flag damage Tuesday morning. It appears to be an isolated incident, authorities said.

To ensure her safety, the sheriff’s office is not releasing any additional information about the woman beyond gender.

It was not clear if the woman was home at the time the flag was burned. No information on potential suspects was available Tuesday morning.

The flag — the rainbow being an international gay pride symbol — was burned sometime Monday night or early Tuesday. The windshield received fire damage, though the rest of the vehicle appeared to be unharmed, Regan said.

A peach tree on the property was also damaged, either by contact with the bark or due to the gasoline, which was poured on the asphalt driveway around the vehicle and ignited.

“We treat all hate crimes very seriously in Forsyth County,” he said, “and will not stand for them.”