York police are investigating hateful, threatening graffiti discovered on public land this week, and a local family says the threatening messages are related to previous bullying incidents targeting their son.

Julie and Tim McCann, who have two sons, one of whom is gay, said they learned Wednesday morning from a friend that a spray-painted message naming one of their children had been scrawled across a rock wall at a vehicle turn-off on Lake Shore Road near Lake Carolyn, about a mile from the McCann’s home.

Julie McCann posted more than two dozen photos of the homophobic, racist messages on Facebook.

“I know that graffiti is common but when it’s aimed at your family it is unnerving, scary and upsetting,” McCann wrote. “As a mother, you just have that foreboding feeling,” she said, adding that she fears there may be further escalation.

York police say they have a suspect, but are still pursuing all leads and urged anyone with information to speak with investigators.

“The investigation is in its infancy; if anybody knows anything, saw anything, give us a call here at the police department,” said Sgt. Nikolaos Piskopanis “Even if someone saw a group of people walking around there … that in itself can be helpful.”

Piskopanis said that because of the specific threat, whoever wrote the message could face a charge of terrorizing in addition to criminal mischief for damaging or destroying property. Both charges are misdemeanors. Piskopanis said a crew of workers removed the messages Thursday.

Julie and Tim McCann she said they believe the graffiti targeting their son is connected to a 2017 bullying incident at York High School. In that case, students rallied in support of Garrett McCann, who is now 18, NewsCenterMaine reported at the time.

The graffiti found this week made broad, anti-gay statements, and also named the McCann’s other son, Dalton, 20, and made a veiled threat against his life using the acronym used to indicate someone is “dead on arrival.” The graffiti also insulted the principal of York High School, Karl Francis, who was the administrator in charge of the school at the time of the 2017 bullying case.

” ‘Dalton = DOA’ is a pretty powerful message for a parent to see,” said Tim McCann, 58. “I think the important part of the story is that there’s still so much hate going on.”

Piskopanis said Thursday that it was too early to determine if the 2017 bullying case is connected.

“I don’t know,” he said. “If that’s the case, our investigation will show that, but I can’t tell you that, we don’t know.”

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