When vandals trashed a van at his church, the Rev. Paul Stoot told reporters he thought the vandalism was motivated by racism because he is black and had filed a lawsuit against Everett police.
However, he did not share those suspicions in the report he filed with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the case. Wires and engine parts were ripped from the 15-passenger van, and the inside reeked of human waste, Stoot wrote in the sheriff’s report.
Sheriff Rick Bart said the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime.
“There just isn’t any evidence. Whoever did it didn’t leave anything behind that would point to a hate crime,” Bart said.
Deputies are investigating the vandalism as malicious mischief, a misdemeanor. If Stoot had raised concerns of racism in the police report, deputies would have looked into it, Bart said.
“Nowhere in the statement did it say that,” Bart said.
Stoot told the sheriff’s office about his suspicions over the phone, but not in his written statement, because he didn’t think that was the place to do it, he said.
“It wasn’t one of those things we were trying to state,” Stoot said last week.
However, he called the media after filing his report and told reporters he believed the vandalism had been racially motivated.
“The hate has to stop,” he told The Herald last week. “It’s unacceptable, it’s real.”
Stoot said he only discussed the racism issue with television and newspaper reporters because they asked about it.
He said he received hateful e-mails and phone messages around the time of the vandalism. Also, the vandalism occurred just days after he and his wife filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city because an Everett police detective in January interviewed their 13-year-old son without them present.
“The facts are, the timing is horrible,” Stoot said. “The facts are that the crime happened. The facts are that I didn’t do it, so who did?”
Stoot’s Trinity Missionary Baptist Church is in the 12000 block of Fourth Avenue W. Over the years, the neighborhood has been hit hard by vandalism and other misdemeanor crimes, Bart said.
Since January, sheriff’s deputies have received 32 reports of vandalism, thefts and burglaries in the immediate area around the church, according to sheriff’s spokesman Rich Niebusch.
Reporter Scott Pesznecker: 425-339-3436 or firstname.lastname@example.org.