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Hate crime investigation underway after Fairview Park LGBTQ+ youth center vandalized; suspect in custody

A suspect has been apprehended and will appear in court on Tuesday, July 5.

FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio — Saturday 8 p.m. Update: The Fairview Park Police Department announced that they have apprehended an individual suspected to be responsible for this incident and others incidents in the area where racist language has been used with graffiti markings. The suspect will be released Tuesday, July 5 after they appear in court. 

A local LGBTQ+ youth center in Northeast Ohio was vandalized overnight and officials believe it was a hate crime.

The Fairview Police Department confirmed on Saturday that an individual is in custody and will appear in court on Tuesday, July 5. 

Kristen Pepera, executive director and co-founder of the non-profit Colors+ Youth Center, shared images with 3News of the vandalism that was found on Friday morning.

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According to the Fairview Park Police Department, at 6:20 a.m. they responded to reports of vandalism and criminal damage.

Upon arriving, officers found racial graffiti spray-painted on the building and a brick that was thrown at the "BLM" flag displayed. 

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"Nothing was damaged inside," confirmed Pepera. "They smashed the windows and ran. The graffiti according to the police officer was the same thing that was spray-painted about Black Lives Matter in the graffiti incident two weeks ago when someone graffitied the N-word on another building in Fairview Park."

You can watch video of the incident below:

Upon further investigation, the Fairview Park Police Department believes the suspect in custody was also involved in a similar incident that happened at Fairview Shopping Center on June 12. 

"We knew this was a possibility with more visibility, but more than anything we want youth to know that we're not going anywhere," said Pepera. "Black lives matter. Trans Lives Matter. LGBTQ+ lives matter. We will continue to fight to have a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth and families."

Credit: Craig Roberson - 3News

The founders spent time on Friday morning cleaning up the vandalism that occurred. 

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Colors+ Youth Center is located in Fairview Park off of Lorain Road. 

The organization is known for its work with the youth LGBTQ+ community. The center offers a community for the LQBTQ+ youth by providing them with advocacy, support, education and celebration.  

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on June 23, 2022.

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