Woman says racist neighbor stabbed her dog, constantly harasses her family

HAMMOND, Ind. — A woman in Indiana said she’s dealing with constant racial harassment from her next-door neighbor. She captured the latest disturbing incident on video and posted it on Facebook, and now police are getting involved.

When Dawn McDowell moved to the 6300 block of Jefferson Street in Hammond, Ind., she said she was moving into a community with good schools for her three kids, and a safe neighborhood for her family. However, she said ended up moving just 10 feet away from a threat.

McDowell’s home is next to the home of Richard Dean Wojtas, who she said has harassed her and threatened her for years because of her race. She said it started when he stabbed her dog.

“It was a terrible thing,” she said. "I had never seen nothing like that in my life. For him to do what he did to her, it was just a horrible hate crime, just a horrible hate crime.”

The dog survived, but McDowell is increasingly worried about her family’s safety.

Over the years, she said there have been other disturbing incidents. One day she said he threatened her with a shot gun.

“He was charged with a felony and locked up for a short period of time for intimidating me with a gun,” she said.

On another occasion, she said he was firing a gun in the backyard and she called the police. The next day he splattered her car with paint.

She said last week was the last straw. She came home from work and was met with a barrage of hateful, racist and threatening language.

“He came out hollering, ‘I hate you F-ing N-words. You N-words are going to die. The KKK is coming.’ So I get out of the car and walked around my ramp, and pulled out my phone and just stood around and started videoing him.”

Hammond police detectives are working on the case and investigating if that neighbor violated a restraining order, and intimidated the single working mother.

WGN attempted to speak with Wojtas but he did not answer his door.

McDowell said she’s running out of options, but said it’s a problem the city should address, so she doesn’t have to change her address.

“I shouldn’t have to move. I’ve done nothing wrong,” she said.

Indiana is one of only five states without a hate crime law, so any charges against Wojtas will have to involve harassment, intimidation or violations of court orders.

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