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Police investigating 'hate speech' and threats to children at Charlotte day care

Police crime scene tape
Tony Webster

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said Monday that they're investigating threats against children after a rock with "hate speech" was thrown through the window of a north Charlotte day care.

Police also said they have evidence that the incident, reported around 8:40 a.m. Monday, is connected to the shooting of a Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation employee last week.

A park ranger was shot and wounded Nov. 27 while closing the Friendship Sportsplex, less than half a mile from the daycare on Cindy Lane.

Late Monday, CMPD said they have a suspect in custody, and were not seeking anyone else. Police did not immediately release any further information.

Police did not say what evidence they had connecting the shooting to the rock-throwing, but they requested the public's help. The FBI is also investigating the case, CMPD officials said.

"It is critical that we get the public’s help — if you have information on who may have committed either act, please contact (Charlotte Crime Stoppers) immediately at 704-334-1600. Tips can be made anonymously," police said in a tweet.

On Monday, police said someone threw a rock through a window at the Marizetta Kerry Child Development Center. The area is a predominantly Black neighborhood, and the child care center is located on the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church campus.

While they didn't say exactly what the message thrown with the rock said, police did say it contained "hate speech and various threats toward children."

Following Monday's attack, CMPD Major Jackie Bryley said the department is completing additional checks near the daycare.

"All of our patrol divisions are utilizing highly visible zone checks around our daycare centers," Bryley said.

"All of our schools, obviously, with our middle school and high schools, have school resource officers already assigned to them," said Bryley. "As far as our elementary schools, we're using documented zone checks with our community coordinators and our first and second shift officers to spend some visible time in those locations and document those with zone check numbers."

The child care center and police have been working to inform parents. A woman who answered the phone at the center on Monday said she wasn't authorized to provide more information.

The child care center has operated for more than 50 years, and serves children from infants through pre-K. Records show that Marizetta Kerry is authorized to care for up to 170 children. The center opens at 7:30 a.m., meaning there were children there when the rock attack occurred.

CMPD chief Johnny Jennings said he is "disheartened" by the attack. Police officers are checking on other nearby day cares.

Ely Portillo has worked as a journalist in Charlotte for over a decade. Before joining WFAE, he worked at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the Charlotte Observer.
Kenny is a Maryland native who began his career in media as a sportswriter at Tuskegee University, covering SIAC sports working for the athletic department and as a sports correspondent for the Tuskegee Campus Digest. Following his time at Tuskegee, he was accepted to the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program as a Marketing Intern for The NASCAR Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2017.