Two arrested in Pacifica hate-crime case 

Two men have been arrested in connection with a number of early-morning hate crimes that plagued Oceana High School earlier this week, but Pacifica police say there may be at least one other person connected with the crime.

"We’ve got two suspects, but we still feel there may be more suspects involved," said Police Capt. Jim Tasa, who added that police are currently following up on additional leads.

Officers arrested Pacifica residents Robert Anthony Polk Jr. and Daniel Joseph Walsh, both 20, on Wednesday. The two, who Tasa said are friends, are suspected of setting fire to Oceana High property, making a bomb threat and scrawling offensive graffiti peppered with swastikas, white supremacy messages and homophobic slurs on campus walls.

Both were charged with multiple counts of arson, committing a hate crime, burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime, among other charges. The two were booked into the San Mateo County Jail and will await a court date to determine bail.

At approximately 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, firefighters responded to an alarm at the school and discovered a weight room filled with smoke from a small fire on a pile of debris that included workout mats.

After the blaze was contained, firefighters found so-called hate speech painted on a nearby wall and a broken window that the vandals may have used to enter the room.

The graffiti included a bomb threat against the school, prompting San Mateo County officials to bring in bomb-sniffing dogs and bomb crews to scout the campus at 4 a.m.

Tasa said that police served four search warrants based on findings from their initial investigation, leading officers to Polk and Walsh. Tasa was unwilling to comment onthe nature of the evidence found because the investigation is ongoing.

This is the second time in April a high school was hit with offensive graffiti. On April 15, someone wrote homophobic messages on South San Francisco High School property. A student has since been arrested in connection with that incident, according to South San Francisco Cpl. Ken Hancock. Tasa said he does not believe that crime is connected to the Oceana incident.

Jefferson Union High School District Board of Trustees Vice President David Mineta said that Oceana is sure to bounce back. He was unsure whether the board would be discussing any new policies, such as diversity training, in the wake of the event.

tramroop@examiner.com

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