ASHBURN, Va. - The FBI is now involved in the investigation into offensive and racist graffiti spray-painted on a historic African American schoolhouse in Loudoun County.
Swastikas and the words "white power" and "brown power" were among the graffiti discovered early Saturday. The 19th century schoolhouse on Ashburn Road is now covered in paint on three sides.
Local, state and federal officials were involved in a press conference Monday, led by Loudoun County Sheriff Michael Chapman. FBI officials said they are assisting with the case.
"Our role right now really is just supporting Sheriff Chapman, what he may need, what his office may need," said FBI Special Agent in Charge David LeValley. "We don't know the facts of this case. We don't know if it will lead to federal charges, but certainly if that's the direction it goes, we'll be plugged in already with Sheriff Chapman."
The vandalism was especially heartbreaking because a group of students with the Loudoun School for the Gifted has spent nearly two years on a project to renovate the building and turn it into a museum. They had raised more than $20,000, put in a new foundation and replaced all the windows.
"I thought this would undermine all our progress, when, in fact, the exact opposite has happened," said Shailee Sran, a ninth grade student with the Loudoun School for the Gifted.
Since the vandalism, donations have poured in. A GoFundMe page has collected more than $56,000. Students plan to continue with the restoration and finish far ahead of schedule.
"We've gotten this amazing response from the community," Sran said. "And we've made Iike $1,000 an hour instead of $1,000 per month. It was really amazing how everyone has reached out, and it's really exciting how we're going to finish it so soon."
Investigators said they have little information about the suspects and that they are still checking surveillance cameras from a nearby shopping center.
Loudoun County Democrats and Republicans have donated $1,000 to the reward for information leading to an arrest. That reward is now $2,000.
Anyone with information about the vandalism can call Crime Solvers at 703-777-1919.