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Racist graffiti tagged on Flagstaff business just days before grand opening

Civano Coffee House was just days away from its grand opening when the front of the building was defaced with racist graffiti.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — An investigation is underway in Flagstaff after a crime spree left several business owners cleaning up the damage.

Among the damage was racist graffiti.

“We finally got our permits in May and then the pandemic hit," said Mario Pulkkinen, a co-owner of Civano Coffee House when asked about opening a business during a pandemic.

“It’s been a nightmare," added John Pulkkinen, Civano's co-owner.

Mario and John Pulkkinen started working on their European-style cafe in downtown Flagstaff last year. The past few months presented hurdle after hurdle.

But on Sunday, just days away from their grand opening, they faced arguably their biggest challenge yet.

“Our hearts sank. It broke my heart," they said.

John woke up to a text. Vandals had hit their brand new business.

“Everything we’ve poured our heart and soul into just to see it like that to wake up on a pleasant Sunday morning to that picture was just kind of a sucker punch. Kind of a gut blow," John said.

Making matters worse, the graffiti is racist. The N-word was plastered across the front of their building, going against everything their business stands for.

“One of the things that drew us to Flagstaff was the diversity," Mario said.

Flagstaff Police are now investigating calling this a crime spree. Police tell 12 News vandals defaced four other buildings. 

Civano's security cameras captured images of the suspects.

Credit: Mario and John Pulkkinen

While the Flagstaff community rallies around these business owners helping them clean up the hateful graffiti, the owners have a message for whoever is responsible.

“They have no idea the heartbreak that this causes a mom and pop shop who’s already suffering from the effects of the pandemic. It affects the entire community not just the small business," Mario said.

Civano Coffee House is still expected to open in two weeks.

Flagstaff police say they already have identified two leads in their investigation.

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