MORAGA — A holiday weekend visiting a family residence turned ugly Monday morning for a San Francisco couple who found themselves victims of what they believe was a hate crime.
Tni and David Newhoff, who spent the weekend at David's parents' home on Wandel Drive, awoke to find in the driveway a cross, covered in a white cloth and with "KKK" written on the crossbar, Tni Newhoff said.
Moraga police Chief Robert Priebe said his department is working with the FBI to investigate the case. Tni Newhoff said she filed a report with the FBI's hate crimes division.
"It obviously upset us," she said. "It took awhile to process because I could live to be 100 years old and I would never expect something like that."
Tni is black and David is white. Tni Newhoff said she and her husband visit his parents in Moraga often and have never had any reason to believe something like this would ever happen.
"The obvious answer is it happened because I am black and someone was unhappy about my being there," she said.
Priebe referred questions about the case to an FBI spokesman, FBI Special Agent Joseph Schadler, who said the bureau is reviewing the case. The FBI has yet to determine if a crime has taken place, Schadler said, or whether the incident warrants federal involvement.
"There's a lot of work to be done before it ends up being classified one way or another," he said.
James Newhoff, David's father, said he and his wife Toni have lived on Wandel Drive for 20 years and were shocked to find out what happened.
"Sadness. Fear. Horror, I guess, is another word. It shouldn't happen anywhere," he said.
Neighbors, many of whom also have lived on the street for decades, had similar reactions.
"I just had a horrible pit in my stomach and couldn't believe that it actually happened," said David Roberson, who lives across the street from the Newhoffs. "It certainly isn't anything that you would expect in this neighborhood or Moraga."
Stephanie Goldsborough, a friend of the Newhoffs, said an e-mail solicitation to friends for donations to the NAACP in response to the incident was met with more than $1,000 in 24 hours.
"Everyone is shocked and appalled and horrified by this because it is something that you would not expect to see, and I think that everyone is kind of rallying to say this is not acceptable," Tni Newhoff said.