PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Joey Messina is soft-spoken.
A first honors student at Mastery Charter Thomas Campus, the 12-year-old loves baseball, but Joey can’t shake the troublemakers at school.
“They don’t like me, they never did,” he says.
Overnight, this seventh-grader’s schoolyard differences followed him home, spray-painted for all to see on his South Philadelphia home where he lives with his parents and two younger siblings.
The threatening racially-charged words cut deep.
“I turned around and just went, ‘Oh my God.’ I called him and said, ‘Hurry up, get out here and look at this,’” Margaux Messina, Joey’s mom, said.
“He walked outside and saw that, he came right in, said, ‘Dad, I am scared now,’” said Joey’s dad, Joe Messina.
Joey’s mom and dad say their son was targeted because of his race. The family is white.
They have police reports documenting a 6-on-1 school hallway attack that happened three weeks ago.
“And then they all started coming in and punching my back, I was covering my face,” the younger Messina said.
The Messinas accuse staff at Mastery Charter Thomas Campus of looking the other way.
“They let them run that school. It’s a shame to say, they really do,” Margaux Messina said. “They don’t care about the gangs in there, they deny that when there really is.”
On Wednesday night, the school reached out to CBS3 claiming they did not look the other way, but instead, was proactive in handling the situation.
Philadelphia police now have detectives assigned to investigative the graffiti.
“In this specific case, the nature of what was said does lead us to believe there is a racial component because of a specific word that was used,” Capt. Sekou Kinebrew said in a brief interview.
Joey’s dad is at a loss in dealing with what has arrived at his doorstep.
“I want to go up to that school and confront the main people and how am I composing myself, I don’t even know. I’m ready to explode,” said Joe Messina.
In a statement obtained by CBS3, the school says, “Our job is to keep students safe. We have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying and investigate all allegations thoroughly and expeditiously. For all off-campus incidents, we defer to the police for appropriate follow-up.”
The school added Joe Messina, the father, “is no longer allowed on campus because of a pattern of behavior.” They declined to provide further details.
A city anti-graffiti crew washed down the wall of the Messina’s home.