The 2017 death of an Asian American teenager in her Colorado home is now being investigated as a hate crime, according to the FBI.
Maggie Long’s body was found after officials responded to a house fire in Bailey, Colorado, the FBI said. According to 911 calls, there reportedly were people inside the residence causing damage, the FBI said. The report said at least one male was on the property.
The crime scene investigation, the FBI said, revealed a physical altercation took place between Long and her assailants before the fire started. The agency reported the suspects stole a Beretta handgun, an AK-47-style rifle, 2,000 rounds of ammunition, a green safe and jade figurine.
The El Paso County Coroner’s Office ruled Long’s death on December 1, 2017, as a homicide, the FBI said.
The FBI’s Denver office didn’t say which form of bias is being investigated in Long’s case. The agency defines a hate crime as criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by the offender’s bias against a religion, disability, ethnicity/national origin, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.
Since Long’s death, anti-Asian hate crimes more than doubled during the pandemic, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
The House voted 364-62 Tuesday to pass legislation intended to counter a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes amid the coronavirus pandemic. President Joe Biden has voiced his support for the measure and now that it has passed the House, it will be cleared for his signature.
Sisters were initially surprised
CNN affiliate KUSA-TV spoke with the victim’s sisters, Lynna and Connie Long, who said they were initially surprised when they learned the murder was being investigated as a hate crime.
“We just haven’t experienced that type of violence firsthand, but knowing what happened to Maggie and just the nature of the violence, it is something that should be taken into consideration,” Connie Long said. “Her race, her gender, you know, all of those are contributing factors for why these perpetrators thought it was OK to do that to her.”
Lynna Long added: “The crime that was committed against my sister is a crime that was committed against an Asian American woman.”
Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw, whose office is also investigating the murder, said treating the case as a hate crime allows his department to qualify for more funding and resources.
McGraw said there are no known suspects. He said the sheriff’s department, as well as the FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigations, are pursuing leads whenever they are presented.
The FBI and the Long family have pooled a $75,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the murder case.
“The biggest thing to get out is if you know anything, please call. You don’t know how far something little will go,” McGraw said.
Lynna Long said the circumstances since the murder have changed, and she hopes that could incentivize people to come forward with information. “Maybe now the people who may have known something in December 2017 are now in a place where they can speak to their truth,” she said.