On Saturday night between 10:45 p.m. and midnight, the back windshield of a 2008 Toyota Camry belonging to rising senior Hope Gniewek was shattered while parked in a visitor’s parking space at the Tower Village Apartments.
Gniewek believes the vandalism might have been a targeted at multiple bumper stickers on the back of her car, many of which show support for the LGBTQ community.
“You know sometimes it happens where someone is throwing something at his buddy and it missed and hit a window,” Gniewek said. “But it wasn’t like that. This had multiple points of impact.”
Gniewek, a New York native, took a year off from attending the University of Dallas and plans to return this fall to finish senior year as a drama major.
She has filed a report with the Irving Police Department. According to the police report, which was filed on April 21, a report was taken for the misdemeanor of Criminal Mischief but there are no suspects, no witnesses, and no evidence left at the scene.
She said the Irving police officer who responded to the crime agreed that an object hit the windshield multiple times. The object smashed the window and tore the surrounding fabric.
She parked her car around 7 p.m. and didn’t notice any damage when she drove past it later with a friend at around 10:45 that evening.
Later in the night,11:55pm, she received a message from another Tower Village resident who had noticed the damage and was texting to warn her that it was raining and the entire back seat was exposed.
Gniewek did not see the message until the morning, and at that point severe water damage had already occurred to the back seat and back speakers of the car.
“I have expensive stuff in my front seat, like a $200 GPS and a bunch of stuff like that that wasn’t touched,” Gniewek said. “It wasn’t theft.”
Gniewek noted that Michelle Little, another Tower Village resident, also had a car window broken that weekend.
Little said that her back windshield, while not completely shattered, had a hole smashed in in it. She filed a police report and filed for insurance, but has to pay out of pocket because it was just partially damaged and there are no leads in the case.
Little’s car, which was parked in front of building 1760, in a separate lot from Gniewek’s. The window was broken Friday night sometime after 11:30 p.m. Nothing was stolen.
“There was a line of cars parked around me and no other cars around me were hit,” Gniewek said.
Due to the nature of the bumper stickers on the back of the car, incidents of discrimination in the past and the fact that no other cars in the area were damaged at the time, Gniewek believes this was an intentional act of discrimination against herself and her views.
“Ultimately it doesn’t matter if people acknowledge that it’s a hate crime,” Gniewek said. “Either it’s a hate crime or a terrible random malicious act of violence. Either way that’s terrible. And it’s pretty weird that out of all cars there it would be my car that was busted.”
Gniewek, who just moved back to Irving in April, says she is currently living paycheck to paycheck and will be starting a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of repairs.
Might be time to take off those bumper stickers. Or maybe you got robbed by the “lower income people’s” of the community whom you love and support so much.