Laquan Madison woke up Sunday night to use the bathroom.
Within moments, Madison, his wife, Jennifer, and their five children needed to race out of their home — the victims of a fire and, police say, a hate crime against the black family.
Investigators arrived at their home at 29 Cold Spring Ave. about 11:40 p.m. to find a swastika and racial epithet spray-painted on the burning home in a quiet section of town, Schodack police Chief Joseph Belardo said Monday.
“It’s not going to force me to move,” a composed Madison, 31, told reporters late Monday afternoon when he stopped by the home.
“This is our home. This is where we live,” his wife said.
Madison’s wife said she once experienced a similar hate crime when she lived in Nassau County; someone painted the “N” word on her door.
“We’re OK. This is just something I accept. This is the world that we’re living in,” she said, standing outside the home.
Madison said he was pleased his wife and children — one of whom is a newborn, the oldest 9 — escaped safely.
“People are going to be who they are. My hope is they understand life is not a joke,” he said. “You can’t toy with people.”
He said he was not being forgiving.
“It is what it is,” he said. “They did what they did.”
Charred remains of the garage lay in rubble outside the home. The blaze did not affect Madison’s chickens, who were in their cages very close to where flames destroyed the garage, or the goats.
He explained how he discovered there was a fire.
“I just happened to get up and go to the bathroom. I saw an orange glow… I screamed my wife’s name,,” he said. “We all got out.”
The family was physically unharmed but emotionally traumatized, the police chief said.
“How do you feel safe in your home now?” he said.
The incident is being investigated as a hate crime.
“Whoever did this will be facing some very serious charges,” Belardo said.
It took five volunteer fire departments to stop the blaze, which burned the garage to the ground, the police chief said. The exterior of the family’s home, which is not far from the garage, was also damaged.
“It is out of the blue,” Belardo said. The family has lived in the house for three years and has good relationships with their neighbors, he said.
Hate crimes, the chief said, are “not something that happen very often out here.” He could not recall a case in his more than 20 years on the town force.
Neighbors said they were unaware of any racial issues in the area. One home, however, was flying a combination of the American flag and Confederate flag, the latter of which has been removed from state capitols, such as in South Carolina, because it is viewed as a symbol of slavery and racism.
Ann Hoffman, who lives just up the hill from the house, was in tears as she spoke to the Times Union. Her grandson plays with the family’s kids, she said.
“They’re such good people. It breaks my heart,” Hoffman said. “They’re beautiful people. They don’t bother anybody. What’s wrong with people? … It’s sickening, we all have to live.”
Source: Times Union | Emily Masters and Robert Gavin