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No suspects in northwest Forsyth anti-gay hate crime

NORTHWEST FORSYTH — Detectives have reportedly exhausted all leads and currently have no suspects in the ongoing investigation into an anti-gay hate crime that targeted a northwest Forsyth County home in June.

No one has been arrested or charged in connection with the vandalism, which most notably included the burning of the homeowner’s rainbow flag on a vehicle in the driveway and damage to a peach tree and front yard, according to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

Epifanio Rodriguez, a spokesman for the agency, said the investigation remains active, though it was unclear whether anyone has been questioned in the incident that was described as “an obvious hate crime.”

The rainbow flag, an international gay pride symbol, was removed from the front porch of the home in a neighborhood off Hurt Bridge Road sometime between 10:30 p.m. June 29 and 9:45 a.m. June 30. According to a report obtained by Forsyth County News, it was then ignited on top of the windshield of a car in the driveway.

Other damage, totaling an estimated $1,640, was done around the yard.

The homeowner, whose name has not been released, told authorities she has had problems with neighborhood teenagers in the past due. The June 30 incident, however, left her fearing for her family’s safety.

Since that time, no further vandalism or criminal acts have occurred at the home, according to the sheriff’s office.

According to the FBI, a hate crime is a traditional one, like vandalism, whose motivation is based on beliefs against a race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or ethnicity.

Georgia is one of five states that do not have a hate crime law, so any suspects charged would not face that specific count.

But the sheriff’s office has previously noted that committing a hate crime can change the classification of a traditional crime, resulting in stiffer penalties during sentencing.

Earlier on the day of the incident, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, effective immediately. Georgia was not one of the 37 states that had previously allowed such unions.