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Gay slur painted on Oceanside man's garage

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Pixel Max -- Stock

Law enforcement in Oceanside are trying to determine if an epithet painted on a gay man's garage is a hate crime. 

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Aaron Earls found the word across his garage door last Sunday. He said it was so fresh he could still smell the paint.

Earls, 61, recalls that when he got back from doing errands at about 7:30 pm he found the slur. 

“I think I went in my house and cried," he said from his home in the senior community of Oceana, “This is just hatred,” he said on Tuesday. “Hatred and ignorance.”

This isn't the first time Earls has dealt with homophobia, but it is the most impactful. 

“I don’t know how to deal with that anymore,” said Earls. “I don’t have time for that. I don’t have any emotions left.”

Originally from Colorado, Earls moved to San Diego for health reasons and to be closer to medical facilities.

Despite having only a few run-ins with some neighbors he says they have been supportive. One even gave him $500 to use as reward money in the capture of the vandal. 

“I’m not going to let (the incident) change how I feel about people and about life,” Earls said.

The homeowner says he is going to sell his condominium and move to another part of the region. 

“I don’t want to move,” Earls said. “But I have to. I have to.”

The latest FBI hate crime report which is released every fall for the previous year shows that three San Diego areas dealt with an increase in crimes against race, religion and sexual orientation in 2017. 

Carlsbad had seven reported incidents, while El Cajon and Oceanside had six. 

The report also showed the number of hate crime incidents reported to the FBI increased overall by about 17 percent over 2016.