January 2021

FBI, US Attorney investigating racist threat towards Merion Village bakery

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are investigating after a South Columbus business said they received a threatening and racist phone call last weekend.

“Someone called the bakery. They probably thought they were talking with me and you know, proceeded to use the N-word, suggested that I get out of the building,” said co-owner Letha Pugh. “When someone says I better get out of somewhere, it’s probably never a good thing. Just in light of what’s been happening over the last couple of weeks, couple of months, couple of years, I just felt like that’s enough of a threat for me.”

The bakery temporarily closed and reopened a few days later.

Columbus Police told ABC 6/FOX 28 on Monday that the person responsible for threats could be charged with a hate crime.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio’s Office confirmed the FBI is also investigating.

“We can confirm that we are investigating this matter with the FBI. We ask anyone who may have relevant information to contact the FBI at 513-421-4310,” said Jennifer Thorton with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The bakery wasn’t the only Black-owned business to receive a racist threat, the Columbus Urban League said.

“What’s just as unbelievable is that other Black business owners reportedly also are receiving similar threats,” CEO Stephanie Hightower said. “Federal, state and local authorities should immediately and thoroughly investigate these issues, protect the intended victims and ensure that swift and sure prosecution is pursued against these criminal acts.”

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