The Riverside County Sheriff's Department is asking for the public's help to find out who painted the word "terrorist" in red on the walls outside a Sikh temple in Riverside.
The graffiti occurred sometime between late Monday night and early Tuesday morning.
The word "terrorist" is actually written twice, but one of the words is misspelled.
"I just thought, 'Oh my goodness, how ignorant can these people be?'" said Bhupinder Kaur, the wife of the temple's head priest, Anantvir Singh. "First of all, they couldn't spell the words right, and then second of all, I was kind of disgusted because it's a place of worship."
Investigators have not yet determined if the vandalism will be considered a hate crime.
"I think it's important that if this is identified as a hate crime, that it's prosecuted as such, because it sends a very strong message to communities that intolerance and hatred won't be tolerated," said Kavneet Singh, a board member for the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Kaur said deputies responded Tuesday, telling temple staff to be vigilant. The vandalism comes almost a year after a gunman killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
"Something to the words of 'terrorist' written on the side of a temple should not be taken lightly," Kaur said. "Unfortunately, this can be a first step to something that might happen later, such as what happened at the Oak Creek Temple in Wisconsin."
Investigators have been reviewing surveillance video, but have not identified any suspects yet.
"It's disturbing, but at the same time we are a little hopeful that this event could maybe educate the community who don't know who the Sikhs are," Kaur said. "And let them know we are not terrorists, we are loving people who base our living on helping others."