SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Charges will not be filed against a man seen wearing a Ku Klux Klan-style hood at a Santee Vons store earlier this month, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said.
On May 2, a man wore a white pointed hood during a visit to the Vons grocery store in the 9600 block of Mission Gorge Road. Photos of the man circulated online, sparking outrage among community members, local leaders, and civil rights groups.
Sheriff’s officials identified the man, and when questioned about the incident, he said he was frustrated with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and “having people tell him what he can and cannot do.”
According to sheriff’s officials, the man said the hood “was not intended to be a racial statement." He told officials, “It was a mask and it was stupid.”
Investigators interviewed witnesses and studied video evidence, and sheriff’s officials said that “it was determined there was insufficient evidence to charge the man” with a crime.
In a statement, sheriff’s officials said: “That said, this incident should serve as a reminder for anyone contemplating wearing or displaying items so closely associated with hate and human suffering that our society does not hold in high regard those who do so. Santee is a city of families and the community is rightfully disgusted at this man's despicable behavior. The Sheriff's Department thoroughly investigates incidents such as these and will hold those who violate the law accountable.
Several days after the incident at the Santee Vons store, a man was spotted at a Santee Food 4 Less store wearing a mask that displayed a swastika on it.
On May 7, at around 6:30 p.m., deputies were called to the store in the 9400 block of Cuyamaca street in response to the incident.
Deputies asked the man to remove the mask and he complied, sheriff’s officials said.
Officials said they would continue to look into the Food 4 Less incident.
The episode prompted expressions of shock and dismay online, including one from county Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents Santee and other East County neighborhoods.
"Sad, vile acts like this must not be tolerated here or anywhere else," she tweeted Friday afternoon. "It's deeply offensive to the community and our entire region."