By Mary Moloney
Springfield, MO (KSPR/CNN) - A week after their home went up in flames, a Missouri family falls victim to an apparent hate crime.
Now, the FBI may get involved in the investigation.
"I didn't know what to do; I didn't know what to say. I was kind of speechless for a few minutes. I was scared, I was mad, I was so angry. I'm not feeling safe in my own home," said Victoria Bailey-Kerr.
The Kerr family lives in fear after vandals etched a racial slur and a threat into a car.
"It makes me feel kind of violated you know, that they would come up on my property like that and do this, send this message to us and actually try to hurt us," said Greg Kerr.
Police found a knife in the front yard and a tire slashed. The warning came days after an arsonist set a tub on fire and blocked the back door. Flames scorched portions of the home.
"It felt like a nightmare. That as a parent I can't do the right thing by keeping my children safe. To feel like I constantly have to look over my shoulder and worry that, you know, this is going to be the night. This is going to be the night that they get us. That's not okay," said Victoria.
KSPR News contacted the NAACP to alert them about the Kerr's situation.
"My first reaction and emotion was really kind of appalled and sadness really that anyone is going through this in 2012. This was a pretty serious offense. I mean, this woman's home was literally set on fire with her children inside while she was asleep. You can't get any hateful, more hateful than that," said Cheryl Clay with the NAACP.
The group is now an advocate for the family and called the vandalism a hate crime.
"When you are that specific and that hateful with a derogatory word that is relating to someone's race, then that is a hate crime. That is not vandalism. That's gone a step beyond vandalism," said Clay.
While the police and potentially the FBI investigate the crime, the family is proactive about protection.
"I don't want to be bullied. I don't want to be pushed out of my house that I love," said Victoria.
"So I went out and I bought cameras. I've got them installed now. Night vision and everything. If anybody tries it again, we'll have them on camera," said Greg.
For the mother whose way of life was threatened, she will do whatever it takes to keep her children safe.
"If something else happens, my husband works at the sporting goods counter at Walmart. Sure will use the 10 percent to get a gun. Sure will do it. I'm not going to be a victim. I'm not," said Victoria.