Police in South Carolina are searching for an individual who digitally altered an electronic road sign and wrote a racial slur on it.
The electronic road display is located on South Pike West near Shoney’s and US-76/378 bypass. Authorities initially said it was placed there by the South Carolina Department of Transportation to alert drivers of an ongoing construction project. However, their investigation has led them to believe the sign belongs to a paving company involved in an ongoing road improvement project on South Pike West, the department noted.
Sumter police officers found out about the incident at around 4:30 p.m. and the racially-charged statement was removed from the sign.
In a statement released to media, Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark said his department plans to “investigate this to the fullest.” He described the incident as extremely disturbing, “A scar on the city and its residents that is in no way indicative of the community where we work and live.”
Sumter has a population of roughly 43,000 people with a racial divide of nearly 49% Black and 44% white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
On Sunday (Jan. 16), Sumter Police released screenshots via Facebook of surveillance video footage that the department said shows a man walking near the digitally-tampered message board on Saturday (Jan. 15). A hooded figure wearing blue jeans, and a white mask is pictured.
A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest, Sumter police stated.
“Anyone who recognizes this person or knows anything about this incident is asked to call the Sumter Police Department at 803-436-2700 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC,” the police statement reads.