Two female Yosemite High School students were arrested late Tuesday after media reports began to surface about their alleged racially-motivated vandalism of a car belonging to a coach at Yosemite High School.
The two minors, ages 15 and 16, will not be identified by authorities per California law.
Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Ward said in a release issued Tuesday around 9 p.m. the two girls may have been frightened after seeing media reports about the vandalism, including the Sierra Star’s details about the car being painted in racial and homophobic slurs.
“Initial media coverage of the incident may have scared the suspects into contacting the victim to try and apologize for their actions,” Ward said, “in the hope that they wouldn’t get in trouble.”
Investigation will continue to determine the circumstances that led up to the vandalism, Ward said.
The two teens were booked into Madera County Juvenile Hall for felony vandalism and committing a hate crime.
Many in the Mountain Area were outraged the coach, Victor Salazar, and his family were targeted when three of their vehicles were vandalized, including with feces and foul messages like a phallic object with the word “Trump” inside it painted on Salazar’s car.
On Sunday, March 20, Salazar, Yosemite’s JV boys soccer coach, returned from a weekend vacation in Bakersfield to his family’s home on Pierce Drive in Oakhurst and saw his father’s Chevrolet Silverado truck sprayed with mustard and wrapped in plastic.
His mom’s Subaru was also vandalized in a similar fashion, Salazar said, with some penises drawn on the car as well.
Salazar said both acts appeared to be a prank, which his family laughed off, cleaned up, and didn’t report to authorities.
However, around 12:30 a.m. later that night, witnesses reportedly chased off two suspects vandalizing Salazar’s Volkswagen Jetta with hate-filled messages.
Among the vandalism was a foul slur towards homosexual people, as well as “Go back to Mexico” and “Merrry Christmas b---h.”
Salazar, who graduated from YHS in 2014 and took up coaching the JV boys soccer team last year, said he couldn’t understand who had performed such hateful crimes.
“I was very loved by teachers and students,” Salazar said. “And now that I started coaching at the high school, I was even more. And the more I think about it, I cannot picture who would have done this.”
On social media, many in the Mountain Area expressed their support for the Salazars.
“I hope one day before you die you look back on your actions and realize the errors in your ways,” David Goodwin wrote, saying he forgives the offenders. “I hope before you leave Earth you can finally see the general good in the people you hate today ... it’s so sad you’re in a state of perpetual hate that you can’t see this.”
“I feel sick,” said Natalie Parra. “I can’t believe that people like this live here. Pitiful.”
Salazar said he was able to clean the paint off of his car, but the vehicle suffered heavy dents.
Wednesday morning, after Salazar thanked the community for its support, Parra set up a donation page to help him fix his car. All donations go directly to Salazar’s PayPal account, she said.
Donations can be made by clicking here: https://www.youcaring.com/victor-salazar-543761#.VvLCMSl-Oao.