SPOKANE VALLEY, WASH. -- Authorities were investigating a possible hate crime at a local coffee shop Tuesday after the words "Go back to China" were spray-painted in the parking lot.
The reported vandalism happened at Coffee Break at the intersection of East Mission Avenue and North Barker Road. The owner said when she opened the shop at 5 a.m. she smelled gas and thought it was a leak.
“I didn't really think it was gasoline, I thought maybe natural gas or there's a leak,” said owner Jennifer Na.
Avista responded to the shop but discovered someone had poured petroleum around the building, according to Na. She also said when it got light out she noticed the words "Go back to China" spray painted in the parking lot. Charred paper was also found later at the scene, according to sheriff’s deputies.
The two sisters who own the shop said it is a miracle it is still standing.
“The first thing I noticed was the smell. There was a very strong odor coming in,” Na.
The next thing Na noticed was very upsetting.
“I saw the red writing and I had my employee go out to check to see what it was. When she came back she had this very upset face, I said ‘what was it?’ She said someone wrote ‘Go Back to China’ on our parking lot,” said Na.
That is when Na and her sister Diana found out really how bad the crime was.
“I looked around and found some charred paper,” said Na. “It was completely around our building and everywhere.”
The sisters called the Sheriff’s Office and fire investigators.
“The arson dog came out and every couple feet he would sit down and tell his owner there was something there,” said Na.
The Na’s agreed not to let the hate crime ruin their spirits.
“One bad person doesn't make up the whole community,” said Na.
The owners think the vandalism happened between 10 p.m. Monday and 4 a.m. Tuesday.
They do have security video and are in the process of combing through every frame.