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Police investigating after hateful message spray painted on South Tampa business

Posted at 10:02 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 04:01:59-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Police officers are investigating who spray painted a hateful message on a local shop's sidewalk sign.

In November, Spaddy's Coffee Co. and Raw Smoothie Co. teamed up to serve the South Tampa community in a collaborative shop off MacDill Avenue and Interbay Boulevard.

"We thought that we could kind of fill a gap and be a part of an up-and-coming, flourishing neighborhood," said Gian Carlos Birriel.

The one-stop shop quickly developed a strong customer base with a warm welcome from the neighborhood.

But just two months since opening the doors, someone has targeted the business with repeat vandalism.

It started with messages like "BAD" and "Bad Service" spray painted on sidewalk signs.

The vandalism took a darker turn as staff discovered swastikas splashed across yet another sign Wednesday morning.

"Maybe it’s just somebody trying to stoke fear and hatred because there’s no easier way to do that," said Birriel.

Tampa Police officers are reviewing surveillance video from outside and nearby businesses. They say the incident is considered criminal mischief and trespassing for now.

Detectives have to pin down a specific motive before ruling it a hate crime.

"We're hoping this doesn’t escalate into physical violence or property damage or anything more serious because obviously, it’s the most hateful symbol that most people can think about," said Birriel.