A Virginia Beach woman said she and her family have endured a year of frightening attacks they believe could be racially motivated and should be investigated as hate crimes. In the latest and most frightening, their car was set on fire last week.
Mendy Hanner and her family, who are black, live on Entrada Drive, where she said "weird crimes" have been going on since last year that left them scared for their lives.
Virginia Beach police detectives are working with fire investigators to determine a motive for the attacks and who's responsible, police spokeswoman Linda Kuehn said. No arrests have been announced.
Early in the morning of Aug. 19, Hanner -- whose husband is in the Navy -- woke up to the smell of smoke and the sound of her children screaming.
Their car had been set on fire. The act of arson was so severe that it took a week to remove the melted car parts from the Hanners' driveway.
Hanner, 40, said this was the worst targeted attack they've faced -- but not the first.
The attacks started with roofing and construction nails being placed in their driveway late last year. The Hanner family didn't originally have cameras and floodlights around their home, but after a few recurring incidents, they decided to invest.
Then, there was another round of nails, along with a homophobic slur spray painted on their garage despite nobody in the Hanner residence identifying as LGBTQ. In one case, the suspects moved the camera and the floodlights. In another, they were caught on video wearing masks and hoodies.
Soon after, rocks were thrown through the bedroom windows of Hanner's children.
Because the suspects were unidentifiable, the police were unable to do anything.
"I think they could have done a little bit more to help us," Hanner said.
Hanner said she couldn't sleep after the attacks, which consistently happened between 4 and 5 a.m. Rather than go to bed, she'd stay up and sit in her car, waiting for the dark SUV she saw in the camera footage.
The arson attack was the single night Hanner said she didn't wait in her car.
"It was the first night we let our guard down," she said.
Hanner said her neighbors have been their saving grace throughout the past year, especially after their car was set on fire. Whether it be mowing their lawn and watching her kids, or helping to power wash the melted car parts off their driveway, she said it's all helped to "keep [her] mind off this dangerous crazy person."
One of her newer neighbors, a Navy intel officer, heard about the incidents and went door by door around the street, asking residents to purchase cameras in the hopes of catching the vandals.
"They've just been so helpful," Hanner said.
This article is written by Abigail Brashear from The Virginian-Pilot and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.