Police in Frontenac are investigating an incident of anti-Semitic vandalism and property damage that took place last week at Westwood Country Club. Frontenac Detective Cody Loveless said that a swastika and an epithet saying “F*** the Jews” had been carved into the grounds by the golf course’s sixth hole.
Loveless said police believe the incident took place either late Thursday night (July 17) or early Friday morning.
“We are still actively investigating,” said Loveless. “We did have a person of interest but it turns out he was out of town when the incident took place.”
Tony D’Ericco, general manager at Westwood Country Club, said that while club personnel and members were “shocked by the incident, we are thrilled by the response from local law enforcement and collaborative agencies in St. Louis County.”
He then added: “We are reluctant to provide any other information that would interfere with the police investigation. We are hopeful for an apprehension and a prosecution.”
D’Ericco said the club, located at 11801 Conway Road, has a membership of about 650 families, the overwhelming majority of whom are Jewish.
Loveless said that as of now, police do not know if the vandalism was intended as a hate crime, but added that it is a definite possibility. Karen Aroesty, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League for Missouri and Southern Illinois, said intent is critical to proving whether a hate crime has been committed.
“The choice of the swastika and writing ‘F*** the Jews’ makes this act more intentional, more purposeful,” said Aroesty. “It takes more time to damage a golf green by gouging than it does with spray paint. But the nature of a hate crime is that you cannot know whether it is one until you know the story behind it.”
Loveless said that while pictures of the vandalism had been taken, it was cleaned up quickly. D’Ericco said 140 golfers played in a tournament at the club on Friday.
A few members who did not want their names used said they had heard about the incident and were sadden by it. One said that while it was talked about in private conversations at a club party Saturday night, it did not mar the festivities.