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Possible hate crime under investigation ahead of Wyoming East- Westside basketball game

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CLEAR FORK, W.Va. (WVVA) One of the region's biggest rivalries took a disturbing turn on Friday night.

Just before tip-off at the Wyoming East-Westside basketball game, a player named Jace Colucci, who is bi-racial, walked into the guest locker room -- only to see a drawing of a stick figure with his name on it hanging from a noose.

In an interview with WVVA News on Monday, Collusi's mother Erica Colucci Ayers said this was not the first time her son has been targeted. Just before the Wyoming East- Westside basketball game in 2019, she said a Snapchat conversation was forwarded to her.

"It was a video of kids chanting: hang Jace, hang Jace."

At that time, Ayers said she was told by school board officials that the students responsible had been punished.

She took their word for it, until this past Friday.

"On the bulletin board is a picture of a hangman with a stick figure and the face colored in with Jace's name. He's hanging in a noose."

She said her son didn't even mention it until after the game.

"He played the game with his head held high."

According to Chief Deputy Brad Ellison, school resource officers with the Wyoming County Sheriff's Dept. are taking the matter very seriously, coming in on their day off to investigate.

Wyoming County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Cochrane said the incident could be a possible hate crime.

"We'll take it very seriously. If it meets that criteria, we'll definitely jump on that. But right now it's too early to speculate.

Meanwhile, Colucci-Ayers would like to see more action from the Wyoming County Board of Education.

"After last year, I think they failed my son. They didn't just fail my son...they failed all of the students."

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Annie Moore

Multimedia Journalist

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