An 18-year-old woman told police that she slashed the tires of Nick Dugas’s SUV after she saw a notoriously familiar red hat sitting inside, according to a report by AZ Central.
Dugas, a retail security manager, returned to his vehicle parked in the Paradise Mall around 1:30pm to find that his left front tire had a 3-inch gash in it. Realizing this wasn’t a typical flat he went back inside to review the closed circuit footage.
Security tapes revealed a car filled with 4 women arriving at the mall parking lot on Saturday afternoon. The women can be seen getting out of their vehicle, with two of them stopping and peering into Dugas’s SUV.
Dugas reportedly had a red “Make America Great Again” hat perched on his center console.
The women then went inside the mall, returning to their car after approximately 7 minutes. All four climbed back inside, where they remained for a moment, but then the driver and front passenger can be seen exiting the vehicle.
The driver squatted next to the SUV as the passenger kept watch. The angle of the car shifted in plain sight as the tire was relieved of its air. The two clamored back into the car and drove away.
Dugas noticed in the security tapes that one of the women was holding a red beverage from the Dutch Bros. Coffee store at the mall. Dugas approached the store manager, asking about the uniquely colored drink.
Turns out the manager knew the drink… and the women, well. They provided him a name, and with that information as well as the security video, Dugas passed the tip off to Phoenix Police.
The woman was contacted by authorities and confessed to slashing the tire. “She later told police that it was because she saw a hat with a political message inside the vehicle which she disagreed with,” spokesman Sgt. Vincent Lewis said in an email.
— A Source Not Authorized To Speak … (@shootersix) March 13, 2019
The woman is scheduled to appear in court later this month. She faces up to four months in jail and a $750 fine for the criminal damage charge.
The red hat has become a trigger virtually all across the country, with a number of reported assaults on those who choose to don the headwear.
Most notoriously, a Brazilian immigrant lashed out at a young man in a Mexican restaurant, admittedly striking him and grabbing at his hat after having too many drinks. After police intervened, it was discovered that the woman’s visa had expired and that she was in the country illegally.
Dugas wrote a statement to the court, saying, “In this case, the right thing to do is to forgive you rather than spill hatred onto you like you did to me. Rather than wish upon you the same fear you wished upon me that day. But I really hope that you are listening. Just because I have a different yet equally as important view as you do, it doesn’t EVER give you the right to spew hate, cause fear, and interrupt someone else’s life.”
When Dugas climbed back into his SUV with his 15-year-old son, he used the incident as a teaching moment.
“See that hat? It hasn’t moved, has it?” he asked his son.
“You don’t ever let anybody change who you are, or what you believe in,” Dugas told him. “You stand strong.”