WYCKOFF, New Jersey (WABC) -- A Chinese restaurant in New Jersey was vandalized with hateful messages regarding the coronavirus overnight Wednesday.
Cleaning crews spent the morning power washing and repainting the New Gourmet Garden, a family restaurant in Wyckoff that has been open for takeout and delivery during the pandemic.
It is located in a small strip with a nail salon in a Quick Mart, but the Chinese restaurant was the only one that was vandalized.
The owner said they arrived at the restaurant around 8 a.m. and the police were already there, so it appears someone had seen this graffiti and called 911.
Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime because of the messages that were spray-painted on the building, which include "coronavirus" and "COVID-19" with an arrow pointing at the front door and "Go home to China."
Customers said they were shocked and appalled and that Wyckoff is a welcoming place for all colors and cultures.
"This sickens me," Trisha Grover said. "I feel like this is the political climate of today, and it makes me very sad...I think they have hate in their heart, and it's a horrible thing to have hate in your heart, for someone you don't even know."
Authorities say this is the second time a business has been vandalized during the pandemic, and area residents are hoping police can track down the culprit.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also responded to the incident, saying he was "appalled by the hateful and racist graffiti."
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