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Deputies investigating after man wore KKK-style hood to southern California grocery store

Posted at 8:19 AM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 11:20:55-04

SANTEE, Calif. — Local leaders and a grocery store chain are condemning an incident in which witnesses say a man wore a face-covering resembling a Ku Klux Klan hood while shopping.

The incident occurred Saturday at a Vons in Santee, according to a statement by Vons' owner, Albertsons Companies, Inc.

A spokesperson says that employees confronted the customer about the racist face covering and asked him to remove it. They also ignored the man's requests in the checkout area.

"Needless to say, it was shocking. Several members of our team asked the customer to remove it, and all requests were ignored until the customer was in the checkout area. This was a disturbing incident for our associates and customers, and we are reviewing with our team how to best handle such inappropriate situations in the future," Albertsons Companies said in a statement.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDCSD) reports that its deputies were not called to the scene at the time it took place but detectives are now looking into it and will pursue criminal charges, if necessary.

On Monday, an SDCSD detective said they had not identified the man, but said deputies are reviewing surveillance video. The detective added they've been fielding calls from members of the community who are concerned for their safety.

"There's no place and no need for people to be acting like that and yes people are fearful," said San Diego County District 2 Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

She called the incident "abhorrent" and an act of "blatant racism."

The Anti-Defamation League denounced the incident and the NAACP San Diego is calling on local law enforcement to investigate and provide a full report to the community.

"The message that was sent was an ugly one and that means we must respond but let's put this behind us, too. Let's overwhelm this one ugly incident with love and compassion," Jacob said.

On Monday afternoon, Santee Mayor John Minto reiterated that the city will not tolerate such behavior.

"Many thanks to all who stepped forward to curtail this sad reminder of intolerance. Santee, its leaders, and I will not tolerate such behavior. Santee and its citizens are great, and this particular individual's actions are not representative of us as a people and a wonderful city," Minto said.

According to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, anyone with information on this incident can contact Sergeant Claudia Delgado at 619-956-4050.

This story was originally published by Jennifer Kastner and Mark Saunders on KGTV in San Diego.