WESTLAKE, Ohio -- A Westlake couple says they are on edge and on alert after they discovered a cooler covered with swastikas on their lawn. The interracial couple is afraid someone is trying to send them an ominous message.
Westlake police call the incident suspicious, but they have not determined if the family was specifically targeted.
"Shakes us to our core, you know, to where you just don't feel safe in your own home," said Ryan Dunkle.
Ryan and Ethnedp Dunkle have lived on Clague Road in Westlake, with their two-and-a-half-year-old son, Aiden, for about a year. Thursday, a day after their three-year wedding anniversary, Ryan made a startling discovery on their front lawn.
"There's a box on the lawn and I'm wondering what it is. I can't see what's in it; I just see the swastikas all over it," he said.
The numbers 666 were written in red on one side of the styrofoam cooler, with an upside down cross under it.
Ryan says he immediately sent a text to his wife.
"I call him right away and he goes, 'yeah, I just saw it on the lawn,' and I said, 'well, did you call the cops?' he goes 'yeah, I called the cops and they told me it's nothing; it's probably somebody's trash," said Ethnedp Dunkle.
Ryan, who grew up in Avon Lake; and Ethnedp, who grew up in Haiti, say they do not believe the cooler landed in their yard by coincidence.
"We're the only multi-racial family in this area and it doesn't make any sense that it would land on our yard out of everybody else's," said Ryan Dunkle.
The Dunkles say this would not be the first time they've experienced intimidation, but say it's never been this blatant.
"We've gotten stares, yeah, we've gotten stares. We get -- sometimes we get followed by security; sometimes people would just follow us, but things that we can deal with, but this is pure hatred," they said.
Westlake police took photos of the cooler before destroying it. They are keeping the pictures as evidence in case there is another incident here or anywhere else in the city.
"Westlake is a very quiet community; no one bothers anyone, low crime rate. We didn't expect that; honestly, we didn’t expect anything like this at all. We were just coming from work, minding our business," said Ethnedp.
The Dunkles say they plan to increase security around their home.
Westlake police say they will have extra patrols in the area.