The damaged tent on Westcott's property. (June 24, 2013/FOX Carolina)
CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -
Eli Montgomery has spent almost the past year growing a vegetable garden in Clemson, but last week he found it damaged.
"I immediately smelled smoke. I went up to the trail to what leads to where the garden was located," said Montgomery.
Montgomery discovered his tent on fire and the words "leave (N-word)" on a board.
"My initial reaction was fear," Montgomery said.
He had been growing his garden on Jane Westcott's property with her permission, and she said this has been really difficult.
"It's been very upsetting and hurtful," said Montgomery.
Montgomery donates the food to local charities in Clemson. Westcott said when she found out that animals were getting into his garden a few months ago, she offered up advice.
"I jokingly said that one way to keep them out is if he and his friends camped out there to chase the deer away," Westcott said.
It's advice that turned into an offer for Montgomery to camp out next to his garden until Westcott asked him to leave. Three days later, the fire and vandalism were discovered. Montgomery said he doesn't know who would do this. Westcott doesn't either, but she thinks there has to be more to the story.
"One of the things that has come from this, though, is a lot of bad blood. I feel like I am at the center of it," Montgomery said.
Clemson police said they're investigating this as an arson and possible hate crime.
Copyright 2013 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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