When he first became the victim of hate, Hassan Kelley said he could handle it. But now, with nearly every inch of his Wildwood vacation condo covered with soot, he is burning up.
“Before it was a bunch of jerks. Now I’m mad,” Kelley said Wednesday afternoon, after making the drive to Wildwood from his home state of Delaware.
Kelley found out just hours earlier that a fire, which police said appeared to be deliberately set, had torn through his unit at the Key Colony Condos. The revelation came exactly two weeks after NBC 10 News exclusively reported on January 28, how the place had been broken into and spray-painted throughout with racist graffiti.
“What went through my head? Can’t say it on camera.” Kelley told NBC 10 News.
The suspicious blaze at the Atlantic Avenue complex, where Kelley said he is the only African-American condo owner, was discovered Wednesday afternoon by a worker who came to repair a window smashed in the January crime.
“I’m upset. That’s about all I can say right now is I’m upset,” said Kelley, who lives in Newark, DE. “I just want people to know what’s going on down here.”
The first case remains unsolved. Police said it’s too soon to tell if the two crimes are connected, but that is clearly part of their investigation.
“It’s a possibility and again, we’re investigating all matters into that,” Wildwood Police Detective Lt. Terry Oslar said at the scene of the fire.
“We take bias crime very seriously and we’ll do everything in our power to find who’s doing this,” Oslar said.
Kelley does not believe someone used force to gain entry to his condo unit this time.
“It looks like they came in through the front door. Because the board [put up after the original incident] is still up, no more glass is broken. So the way to get in there is to be beamed inside or open the front door -- with a key,” he speculated.
The fire happened sometime between Saturday, when Kelley said he was last at the condo, and Wednesday.
Despite the vandals’ apparent desire for him to leave, Kelley said after the first crime he would not. Even with his vacation home now in ruins, he said his stance on that has not changed.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’ll move down here before I leave. And they’re not going to come in there when I’m in there,” Kelley said.