The victims told police they were walking home from Graham Middle School when the suspects shouted "racially motivated" comments about Mexicans from inside a home, where one of the suspects lives, according to police spokesperson Liz Wylie. The two groups of boys began to argue, and the suspects came out of the house with what looked like a firearm, she said — it was actually a BB gun — and continued to yell "hateful comments related to what they thought was the victims' national origin."
"The victims never said anything racially oriented," Wylie added.
The suspects, all Mountain View High School students, also threatened to kill the victims with the weapon, she said.
Police arrested all three on charges of hate crimes, criminal threats, brandishing a replica firearm and conspiracy to commit a felony. One of the suspects, age 15, was also charged with possession of marijuana. None had prior criminal records. As of press time, all three were still in custody.
"To put it in perspective, these are all kids that did something very bad and stupid," Wylie said.
The Police Department's new Youth Services Unit later provided counseling to the victims.
This is the second possible hate crime in Mountain View in the last few months. In October, Spanish-language signs belonging to the elementary school district appeared on Shoreline Boulevard with "No More Aliens" spray-painted in red. District administrators said the vandalism was a hate crime, but police said they did not have enough information to make that assertion.
Police Chief Scott Vermeer intended to discuss hate crimes during an upcoming Challenge Team meeting, where community leaders discuss issues facing at-risk students.
"We don't have hate crimes very often," Wylie said. "Because there has been racial tension, we want to keep the community aware."
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