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Acid Bombs, Harassment Drive Family Out of Rossmoor

After months of anonymous harassment, a black family moves away from Rossmoor, leaving unresolved questions about whether they were the victims of racially motivated attacks.

It started with a doorbell ringing in the middle of the night.

Then an acid bomb exploded in her front yard. Someone threw oranges at her front door. And in January, they dumped a dead Christmas tree on her porch.

Terri Boatman said the pattern of harassment drove her and her daughter from their Rossmoor home. Now Rossmoor residents are left with unsettling questions about the community and whether Boatman was the victim of racially-motivated harassment.

, issued a statement Tuesday saying she hasn't received an update on the incident from authorities in more than two months. Boatman also said she was glad she decided to leave Rossmoor, according the statement released through the Rossmoor Predator Management Team.

“I just no longer felt safe in that home,” said Boatman who, until recently, lived in the 3000 block of Mainway Drive with her 18-year-old daughter.

“Why us … that's the question that we all ask?” she said in the statement. “I work hard to provide my child with the best, which is why I chose Rossmoor. I am just as deserving of the 'safe community' that everyone proclaims comes with a Rossmoor address.”

While authorities said they didn’t think the crime was racially motivated, some argue that Boatman – who is African-American – had been targeted because of her race. The Orange County Human Relations, a nonprofit devoted to eradicating hate crime in Orange County, announced that it was considering the possibility that the incident was a hate crime.

Now living in Los Angeles County with her daughter, Boatman said she’s unsure whether the incident was racially-motivated. 

“I want to try to maintain faith in people,” Boatman said. “And I don’t’ know if I can label it.”

She said she still remembers the day she walked out to find the four plastic bottles full of blue liquid on her property on Dec. 2 Sunday morning.

THE DECISION TO LEAVE

Boatman didn't think they were acid bombs. 

She thought they were garbage. 

“I was irritated,” Boatman said. “I thought someone had littered in my yard.”

But soon, Boatman said, “apprehension set in” and she called the authorities.

Then one of the devices exploded.

Three of the devices were found on Boatman’s front yard, one was found in her driveway and one in a tree in nearby rush Park. No suspects have been named. No arrests have been made. 

Boatman said the ongoing harassment only confirmed her decision to leave, a decision she had made after hearing a call from an Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigator about the acid bombs Dec. 6.

In the phone message Boatman played for Patch, the investigator said the acid bombs were most likely prank used by young people and that she shouldn't be too concerned about it. 

Boatman said she wasn’t sure if that meant acid bombs were common in Rossmoor or Orange County, but she wanted out and moved in the first week of January.  

She also said that was the last time the OCSD had contacted her, and she'd like an update. 

Calls to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department were not returned.

RACISM IN ROSSMOOR?

Dave Lara, co-founder of the Rossmoor Predator Management Team, said he doesn’t think the community is an “overtly racist” place.  

If it was, he said, “I think we would have a whole lot of other incidents (like Boatman’s) here."

He said other members of minorities on the block hadn't been targeted. However, many Rossmoor residents are “not in tune with the changing population or southern California" and that isolated incidents of prejudice do occur, added Lara.

Members of the Rossmoor Homeowners Association Board of Directors declined to comment on the issue.

Lara, who is Hispanic, said he, his wife and a number of other residents who are members of minority groups have experienced a handful of hurtful comments about their ethnicity.

“Everybody you talk that’s a (member of a) minority has a story about being treated coldly,” he said.

Lara and his wife reached out to Boatman after the acid bomb incident, Lara said he believes that all harassment incidents are related.

According to Lara, the Rossmoor Predator Management Team released Boatman’s statements because they wanted to encourage law enforcement to continue investigating the case, and they wanted people to remember that the suspect or suspects are still out there. 

“What’s most upsetting to me is the lack of concern of the neighbors,” Boatman said in her statement. “Do they not see any of these activities? Or if they see it, do they just not care? Again, the few folks who reached out to me have been great, but a few folks are not a community. These types of activities can only be stopped if the community bands together.”

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David & Rebecca Lara February 20, 2013 at 06:53 AM
It's Rossmoor's loss that Terri, the victim of the acid bomb crime felt unsafe and had to leave our community. We thank the Patch for updating us on the status of the case. We look forward to the Orange County Sheriff Department arresting the suspect or suspects of the acid bombs. Hate crimes can only be resolved by community awareness, compassion and invovlement.
Ellen Rico Brown February 20, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Wow! Hate crimes still going on in the 21st century?! That's disgusting. This is southern California people! It's all about diversity here! Get over it! The act is one thing, but for the community to stand by and do nothing about it is even more disturbing. Nice job Rossmoor. Way to represent your neighborhood.
enea ostrich February 20, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Completely, utterly ,disgusting. The ones who did it should be tied to a tree, with whip in hand as a threat, and make known "how it feels". I feel very soory that in this day and age we still have this goin on and this is black history month for Lord's sake!
Emily Knell February 20, 2013 at 07:18 PM
I'm a bit offended that I'm grouped into this as being part of the community who doesn't care about someone's property getting acid bombed. What more could we all have done? There was no video surveillance, there are no witnesses to these events, no evidence that leads to a suspect & because of that, Rossmoorians are suddenly a bunch of racist uncaring individuals? I want to point out that after the holidays in 2011 one of my neighbors had a prank pulled on them when they woke up to see about 15 xmas trees dumped on their lawn. There were no witnesses, which is amazing because these were very heavy trees, there must have been at least 3-5 individuals who did this & amazingly very quietly. The family who lives there for all intents & purposes are white. Not once did any of us think that this was a racially based hate crime. We just figured it was teenagers playing a prank. I am not comparing this to dangerous 'acid bombs'. Just saying, that kids play pranks, kids of all races & ethnic backgrounds. I have other 'minorities' on my street & we've Never had any kind of hate crime acted out on someone's property that I know of for the past 22yrs.
Emily Knell February 20, 2013 at 07:19 PM
When crimes occur, as with the Rossmoor stabber of that poor jogger, because there Were witnesses, action was taken & the 'alleged' stabber is in jail awaiting trial. The community banded together & there was even a 'prayer walk' put on by friends of the victim. I'm sad to see that this family felt they had to move. I wish them the best of luck in moving to an area with zero crime.
James R Jones February 20, 2013 at 07:28 PM
I'm a person of color and yes people this is Southern California. A few years ago I purchased a home in Hawthorne, Calif. My white next door neighbor moved to Torrance as soon as he was told of my purchase. He owned a gas station just around the corner from where he lived. The good news, I got rid of a racist pig neighbor plus he must drive further to open up his gas station, but wait, there's more. After approx one year I decided to move to Texas, and this idiot is still driving from Torrance to Hawthorne to this day, not to mention paying a higher price in Torrance. I truly think I got the last laugh.
Lisette Gabler February 20, 2013 at 07:32 PM
I am absolutely shocked that this happened in Rossmoor. I live in Parkewood and we have families of all races and so does College Park East. What is wrong with the people in Rossmoor? Rossmoor always had stated that they are superior to Los Alamitos, but this incident shows how low some of the Rossmoor people really are.
Sachi M February 20, 2013 at 08:20 PM
Pathetic! I'm horrified that this poor lady was basically "ran" out of Rossmoor! Yes there are other African-American families who live here with no issues. I don't know why she & her daughter in particular were targeted but no matter which way you look at it still looks like a hate crime to me. That the Sheriff's have not looked into it more is scary too...one day another family may be targeted with these dangerous acid bombs.
met00 February 20, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Lisette, let's not jump the gun. It "appears" to be a sequence of events that indicate that the actions may have been retaliatory based on the colour/race of the victim. But until a perp is caught we don't know for sure. The concern point here is that the OC Sheriff's department has not done followup on the investigation to the point of locating the perps. That the department apparently has written the event off as a "prank" and thus is not following up on the criminal activity. If the home had belonged to an OC Sheriff's Deputy would they be acting the same way? Would it be "just a prank" or would they take it more seriously that someone attempted to harm one of their own? It's a "prank" when it isn't you or yours who are at the receiving end of a acid bomb, when it's one of your own, it's a threat. Rossmoor residents should be asking that the investigation be as complete for their residents as it would have been had the house in question belonged to Sandra Hutchens. We can't solve the stupid for those that hate, but we can demand that every resident be treated as if they were Sheriff Sandra Hutchens when threats to their life and property are made against them.
Johnny Utah February 20, 2013 at 11:13 PM
They probably foreclosed and used this as a way to leave to sound better.

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