Shayne Howe returned home from a friend’s 40th birthday party just after midnight Sunday.
Ten minutes later, he said there was a two-metre burning cross on his front lawn, and a group of males outside shouting racial slurs at him.
“They waited for me to come home,” said Howe, who has lived in Newport, just outside Windsor, for the past six years. “It’s like they knew I left to go out.”
The 31-year-old Howe, who is black, said by the time he went outside to investigate, there was nobody in the yard.
“All I saw was flames, there was nothing else around,” he explained. “There was no vehicles, no sound, nothing.”
Windsor RCMP arrived to the house at about 12:45 a.m., but the individuals had already fled the scene, they say.
“The investigation is still very much in the preliminary stages,” said police spokeswoman Sgt. Brigdit Leger, adding the RCMP is hoping the public will help identify potential suspects.
“One of the avenues we’re obviously exploring is whether or not the motivation behind this incident was a hate crime,” she added.
Howe said he hasn’t encountered overt discrimination in his community before, but is now looking for a new place to live. He isn’t concerned so much for himself, but for the safety of his fiancée, Michelle Lyon, who is white, and their five children who all live in the home.
“I can’t afford to take the chance of something happening,” he said, referring to the whole ordeal as traumatic.
Howe also wants to get to the bottom of who is responsible for this incident.
He said there were several sets of footprints in the snow on his property and a lighter was found by police across the street.
“I want to know what’s going on,” he said. “This is black history month. And it’s almost over, and they picked it before it was over (to do) it. Hollering out ‘Die, N….. Die’ and having a torch with a rope around its neck. To me, it’s a hanging.”
Anyone with information in relation the incident is encouraged to contact the RCMP or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.