Leisure World hate crime investigation continues

File photo

Local police are still looking for the author of a threatening letter that was sent to an Asian resident of Seal Beach’s Leisure World community. The text of the letter made it clear the family was being specifically threatened because they were Asian. The city government’s response to the crime was discussed during last week’s virtual Coffee with a Cop.

“The Seal Beach Police Department is still actively investigating the hate crime incident which occurred on March 22, 2021 in the Leisure World community,” wrote Seal Beach Police Lt. Nick Nicholas on Tuesday, May 4.

“Seal Beach Detectives have spoken with several Leisure World residents and are working closely with the Golden Rain Foundation and Leisure World Security in an attempt to gather additional evidence,” Nicholas wrote.

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting the Seal Beach Police Department with this investigation in an attempt to identify the author of the letter,” Nicholas wrote.

“Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Detective Jon Ainley at (562) 799-4100 ext. 1113 or jainley@sealbeachca.gov.

A related discussion came up during the Wednesday, April 28, Coffee with a Cop. A member of the public pointed out that the Seal Beach City Council passed a resolution admonishing hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. (See “City Council approves resolution against hate,” at sunnews.org.) The question was asked: does the council plan to vote to admonish hate crimes against BIPOC persons.(The initials apparently stand for Black, indigenous and people of color.)

Seal Beach Police Chief Phil Gonshak said that, sadly, when he speaks, there is a tendency to think he speaks only for the Police Department. He said that tendency happens throughout the country. Gonshak said that when he speaks, he does so on behalf of the city council, mayor, the city manager and all staff.

Gonshak credited his wife for explaining the matter, which has apparently come up before.

“I have three daughters,” Gonshak said. When one gets sick, Gonshak and his wife give her a lot of attention. That attention takes away from the other two daughters. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love them less or that he won’t protect them. “Right now, our Asian community is hurting,” Gonshak said.

He said the City Council’s vote to pass the resolution against hate crimes in our community was the right thing to do.

“I still do,” he said.

He said a year-and-a-half ago, Seal Beach had a community member experience a hate crime. He said the SBPD did everything they could to investigate and present the case to the District Attorney’s Office and to make that resident feel safe.

Gonshak said he has said over and over that we will not tolerate hate crimes in our community, but at what point have done enough of that and taken actions?

Gonshak said he appreciated the question but thinks it’s time now to heal as a community and a nation as it relates to racism, and work on social justice and criminal justice reform.

“It starts with everybody in the community, not just the Police Department,” Gonshak said.

District One Councilman/Mayor Joe Kalmick said the city was concerned about and cared about everyone in the community every day. Kalmick said overall he thought the city was doing a great job.

Gonshak said in Seal Beach, the city has held online meetings with the Evolve group. “What we’re doing about racism is have these community engagement events in Seal Beach,” Gonshak said.

“But I cannot be responsible for curbing racism throughout the entire United States without the buy-in of those people throughout the United States,” Gonshak said.

He said one of the good things Seal Beach has done is stare at the issue in the face.