Wichita police investigating possible hate crime after family’s pride flag burned

Crime

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Zack Gingrich-Gaylord woke up Saturday morning to find the pride flag attached to his Riverside home burned.

“Just melted down into a plastic mess,” said Gingrich-Gaylord.

A range of emotions took over him. The thought that someone lit the flag on fire while he, his wife and child were sleeping inside disturbs him.

“It could have been a lot worse,” said Gingrich-Gaylord. “It’s scary then of course you’re really mad about it.”

He believes it was an intentional act.

This is what was left of the burned pride flag. (Courtesy: Zack Gingrich-Gaylord)

“There wasn’t any other vandalism associated with it. It was that specific flag on this specific house,” said Gingrich-Gaylord. “I don’t have a lot of words to whoever did this. They are acting out of fear and bigotry and intolerance.”

This isn’t the first time something has happened to their flag. They initially put it up about two months ago as a sign of support and solidarity for family and friends who are part of the LGBTQ community. A couple of weeks ago, Gingrich-Gaylord says it was stolen but a neighbor found it in their yard and returned it. He says they bought replacement flags thinking they would never see it again.

The original 15 square foot pride flag attached to Zack Gingrich-Gaylord’s home before it was burned. (Courtesy: Zack Gingrich-Gaylord)

“We had already ordered a couple so we gave those couple away,” said Gingrich-Gaylord. “Then, more people on our block put up their own pride flags.”

He believes his home was targeted because his flag was the first on his street. Nancy and Barry Carroll’s home is one of the four others with rainbow flags on display. They say they were in disbelief to hear what happened.

“It’s disturbing for all of us,” said Nancy Carroll.

“I thought it was just very mean spirited,” said Barry Carroll. “It’s the intention to frighten and scare us.”

A possible scare tactic that Gingrich-Gaylord says has done just the opposite.

“I just like to express my appreciation to all the neighbors who have commented on Facebook who are putting up their own flags in solidarity and not just with us but with all their family and friends who are LGBTQ,” said Gingrich-Gaylord. “That’s the proper response to this is to overwhelm the conversation with love and respect and not to be silenced by people who are trying to get you to be afraid.”

He says he and his wife ordered eight more flags within minutes of discovering their flag had been burned.

Wichita police are investigating this as aggravated arson and a possible hate crime. Police say the incident possibly happened between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Saturday, September 21.

If you have any information contact Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111 or See Something, Say Something hotline at 316-519-2282.

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