Quick Call The FBI

A raceway tenant told authorities they remembered seeing the rope seven or eight years ago…

Noose found at Sonoma Raceway being investigated as hate crime by FBI, sheriff

Anna Bauman June 23, 2020 Updated: June 23, 2020 6:54 p.m.

Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies responded to Sonoma Raceway on on Saturday, June 20, 2020 after receiving a call that a noose was found hanging from a tree.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI launched a hate-crime investigation after a noose was found hanging in a tree at Sonoma Raceway, officials said Tuesday.

The noose was discovered by a racetrack employee around 8 a.m. Saturday near an administrative building, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Employees cut down the noose after finding it and deputies took the rope into evidence Monday. It appeared to be weathered from being outside for an extended time, officials said.

A raceway tenant told authorities they remembered seeing the rope seven or eight years ago after a model airplane crash, but the rope was not tied into a noose at the time.

Detectives are reviewing surveillance footage as part of their investigation to find the suspect or suspects involved in the incident.

“We understand why this case is disturbing for many people,” a Sheriff’s Office statement said. “We take potential hate crimes very seriously and want everyone to feel safe in Sonoma County.”

The incident follows similar disturbing discoveries last week. An effigy and possible nooses were found in trees at Lake Merritt in Oakland, sparking a hate-crime investigation involving the FBI and local officials.

A noose was found Sunday in the garage of Bubba Wallace, the only full-time Black driver in NASCAR’s Cup series, at the Talladega Superspeedway in Ala. Federal authorities said Tuesday that incident was not a hate crime and that the noose had first been seen in October.

Anna Bauman is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: anna.bauman@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @abauman2

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