RACINE (WITI) -- A Racine teenager is in jail, accused of committing hate crimes that police say began with inappropriate words and escalated to property damage. Authorities say the suspect targeted a gay couple near her 16th St. home.
One of the alleged victims, and his brother, claim the problems began a week ago when they confronted 17-year-old Khadijah James.
"She tried throwing a jug in the garbage and it bounced out and my brother's friend said 'just throw it in the dumpster in the alley' and she called him a few words," said Peter Barron.
After exchanging words, police say James grew irate toward Peter's brother, Neil, and his partner.
"She became defensive and started calling them gay slurs," said Jessie Metoyer of the Racine Police Department.
"It just doesn't seem like something she would say," said James' mother, who denies her daughter did anything wrong.
According to a criminal complaint, James continued to heckle the gay couple for a week.
"They say Khadijah was using slurs against them and shouting slurs from across the street as they were waiting at the bus stop and walking past their house," said Metoyer.
"They came home and were pretty upset a few times about this. They tried to ignore her," added Barron.
Police say the verbal harassment escalated to vandalism when James bumped into the couple in the alley behind their home.
"One got an uneasy feeling and started watching Ms. James and he saw her pick up some items and throw them at their house and the window shattered," said Metoyer.
The victims immediately contacted authorities.
"I give both of these gentlemen a lot of credit for coming forward and bringing this to the forefront before it got any more serious," Metoyer said.
Police say this is not the first time James has been in trouble with the law. She was recently charged with a domestic incident in her own home that resulted in criminal damage to property charges.
The alleged victims say they are no longer living in the area and hope James' arrest gives other the courage to speak up about hate crimes.