A Carrollton neighborhood is rallying around a gay couple who had their rainbow flag stuffed into their mailbox and set on fire last week.
Carrollton police are investigating the incident as arson, but say it could be bumped up to a hate crime or even a federal offense.
“It was a hate crime was my immediate thought, it was purposeful, it was deliberate,” said Markus Maguire. He and his husband Wilson Nash moved to the Austin Waters neighborhood two and a half years ago.
The couple was initially worried about moving to Texas and were afraid those fears were confirmed after finding their gay pride flag vandalized in their mailbox Thursday morning.
“I looked at the mailbox and it had definitely been burned, and there was a lot of mail stuffed in the mailbox,” Nash said.
Immediately, though, a new flag was flying in front of their house and their neighbors began to show support.
“No one is going to make them intimidated or afraid, we're all going to hang rainbow flags, we're all going to put out gay pride flags, and they'll have to tackle all of us, not just them,” said Mary Dees, neighbor.
Sure enough - several flags, big and small, started popping up.
“It was really the least we felt we could do to show our neighbors, hey we're there for you and to show the community, you have our support,” said Andrew Whitehead, neighbor.
Neighbors have done more than just put up flags -- several have gone to police with surveillance video.
Cameras caught a suspicious van driving around multiple times around 3:30 a.m. Thursday. Police believe it could be the person who burned the flag.
“To be a hate crime, we would have to be able to prove it was motivated by prejudice or hate. We don't know we'll be able to do that, we don't know that we won't,” said Carrollton PD spokeswoman Jolene DeVito.
As police continue to investigate, rainbow flags keep flying high in the neighborhood. Maguire and Nash say they are now proud to live here.
“Any thoughts of ever leaving are gone. We know we're home now,” Maguire said.