A man who painted swastikas and “White Power” on cars, homes and fences in Royal Oak earlier this week is an Asian American resident with mental health issues, police said Wednesday.
The graffiti, which was discovered Sunday morning in several locations near Woodward between 11 Mile and Catalpa, was painted by a man in his early 20s, according to Royal Oak police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue.
O’Donohue said the man has “mental health issues,” and that police would not pursue criminal charges against him.
“He’s obviously confused,” O’Donohue said. “The decision to handle it the way we’re handling it is because it’s more appropriate to get him mental health help than pursue charges.”
O’Donohue said the man, who lives with his parents, has a criminal record. “It’s mostly drug crimes and some minor theft,” he said. “He has a drug problem and needs help. His parents want him to get help, and this is a way to make sure he gets it.
“We don’t think this was a hoax,” O’Donohue said. “We don’t think in this individual’s mind it was a hate crime, even though most people would assume it to be, including me when I first saw it.”
Reports of hate incidents – some of which have turned out to be false – have increased since the election of President Donald Trump last fall.
David P. Gelios, Detroit FBI special agent in charge, said federal authorities are vigilant in investigating when such incidents are reported.
“ I don’t like to speculate why people do things, but we will always take these reports seriously and be expeditious in our response,” he said.