Possible hate crime investigation after teen's home vandalized in South Philly

Joseph Messina woke up Wednesday morning, February 21, and came outside his South Philly home to find graffiti spray painted across the whole front wall.

"I feel really shocked and scared," 12-year-old Joseph told FOX 29, "I'm just shocked that they know our address and that they did that."

"I heard him scream. I didn't know what happened," said Margaux Messina, Joseph's mother.

Margaux Messina quickly came outside. When she stepped out the front door, she saw the words "Snitchin and Die," then a racial slur.

"To write the word die, that's really, like, taking it far. It wasn't just a racial comment. It was die," Messina said.

Joe Messina believes the graffiti is tied to bullying incidents directed at his son. Joseph is a 7th grader at the Mastery Charter School, Thomas Campus in South Philly, which has a strict police against bullying.

"We're trying to get him into another school and he was an honor roll student and his grades are starting to drop cause it's consistent bullying," Joe Messina said.

South Detectives and Homeland Security are now investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. Police are also stationed at the school to prevent further incidents. City cleanup crews removed the graffiti on the Messina's home.

"God forbid if they retaliate and start shooting at our house. We're really concerned about that," Messina said.

"I really hope that they lock them up. I really do," Margaux said.

"It's like immature to do that to a person's house over an incident with kids," Joseph added.

Joseph is not going to return to school at this point. FOX 29 is awaiting a statement from the school.