PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - A possible hate crime is keeping some Palm Springs residents up at night. Some people at the condominiums on East Palm Canyon and Camino Real believe vandals are targeting gay men in their complex.
Robert Rossi woke up to a charred doorframe and his welcome mat destroyed by fire last week. "Absolutely worried, that is my only means of getting out of here unless I jump off a balcony," said Rossi.
The Palm Springs police department began an arson investigation, but it didn't stop someone from harassing Rossi. "The next night, I went to sleep again, and about 2 o'clock I got a rapping on the door," said Rossi. "Of course, the dog barked, ran down the stairs."
Rossi says this continued every night for the next week. Each time he opened the door, there was no one there. The knocking stopped Monday night, but when he left his home in the morning, he found a red cross made of something that smelled like ketchup outside his door. This time, he wasn't alone. Two other men in the complex woke up to the same mark. One, who did not want to identify himself, believes it's a hate crime. "All three of them were gay. It's just too coincidental for me."
Rossi fears the vandals might live nearby, targeting him because he's running for the homeowner's association board of directors. "Anybody's entitled to run for the board without being harassed," said Rossi. "I would hope that it's no one in this complex."
A current member of the board told us, there's no way the upcoming vote would cause vandalism like this. For Rossi, the reason doesn't matter, he just wants it to stop. "If there's some sort of malice or hatred involved in this, let it go.