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Woman called Española teens pulled from Colorado campus tour ‘creepy’ and ‘odd’

SANTA FE — The parent who called Colorado State University police about two Native American teenagers from Española who were then pulled off their campus tour Monday described the brothers as “creepy” and told a dispatcher that her encounter with the brothers made her feel sick.

In a recording of the 911 call released Friday by CSU, a mother who was on the same campus tour as 19-year-old Thomas Gray and 17-year-old Lloyd Gray tells the dispatcher that the two were acting suspicious and other adults on the tour were also concerned.

“There are two young men that joined our tour that weren’t a part of our tour,” said the woman, described in a police report as white and blond. “They’re definitely not a part of the tour, and their behavior is just really odd.”

“It’s probably nothing,” she also said on the 911 call. “I’m probably being completely paranoid, with just everything that’s happened.”

The experience of the Gray brothers, who traveled from Española to Fort Collins on Monday to tour CSU, has since received national attention as the latest example of bias against people of color. Their mother, Lorraine Gray, detailed the incident on Facebook and said her sons were the victims of racism, setting off a round of news coverage in the Mountain West and around the country.

The Grays are Mohawk and moved from New York to New Mexico in 2009.

 

Listen to the 911 call here:

On Friday, CSU released the recording of the woman’s 911 call about the brothers, officer body camera footage showing the Grays being interviewed by police and a written police report.

Lloyd Gray

Thomas Gray

Also, CSU President Tony Frank sent a message to all students and staffers saying he and other college officials have been trying to reach the Grays to reimburse them for the cost of their travel to the university and to offer them a VIP tour of the Fort Collins campus.

He also acknowledged changes CSU is considering for its campus tours, including giving all guests a badge or lanyard so they are “clearly identifiable” as well as establishing a new protocol for campus police to notify tour guides if officers need to pull anyone out of a tour group.

“The very idea that someone — anyone — might ‘look’ like they don’t belong on a CSU Admissions tour is anathema,” Frank said in the statement. “People of all races, gender identities, orientations, cultures, religions, heritages and appearances belong here.”

Brothers were late

In the police report, officer Lance Hoisington wrote that the parent who called about the Grays told him the teenagers “wandered” into the group 45 minutes into the tour and did not give their names when the tour guide asked.

“(The caller) told me that several people in the group were uncomfortable because the two boys were laughing and keeping to themselves and did not seem to be interested in the tour,” the officer wrote.

But during a news conference Thursday in Española, mother Lorraine Gray said the boys were too shy to introduce themselves to the 15-person tour group. Instead, Thomas, a freshman at Northern New Mexico College, said he had introduced himself and Lloyd to the tour guide.

About 10 minutes after that, he said, police arrived.

During the six-minute 911 call, the caller told the dispatcher that the Grays “won’t give their names, and when I asked them what they wanted to study, everything they’re saying isn’t, they were lying the whole time.”

She later said she thought the teens were lying because they laughed when answering her question.

She also expressed concerns about their dark clothes with “weird symbolism or wording on it.”

“They just really stand out,” she said. “They stand out. Their clothing has dark stuff on it, dark things.”

She also noted that one of the boys had his hand in his oversized sweatshirt.

The video shows Thomas wearing a T-shirt with a colorful cartoon monster image called “Death of Poseidon” on the manufacturer’s website. Lloyd’s hoodie, as shown in a photo provided by the Gray family, has a similar image on the back.

 

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This photo that Thomas Gray sent to his mother while he and his brother were on a campus tour at Colorado State University shows his brother, Lloyd, wearing a hoodie. A woman whose call to campus police resulted in campus police detaining the brothers said they were wearing clothing with “weird symbolism or wording on it.” (Photo by Thomas Gray)

The woman said she believed the brothers were Hispanic while describing them to the dispatcher. “One of them for sure, he said he’s from Mexico,” she said.

The body camera video shows the two responding officers pulling the brothers aside at the Student Rec Center. The officers were polite and matter-of-fact and patted the brothers down. They asked for identification and asked the brothers whether they were supposed to be on the tour.

After about 4½ minutes, the Grays were let go when they showed their email confirmation to attend the tour.

But by then, the group had already moved on without them. In its statement Wednesday, CSU said the tour guide didn’t know police had been called or that the Grays had been pulled out of the group.

Earlier this week, in an apology message the tour guide sent to Lorraine Gray, she said that the brothers weren’t acting suspicious and that she saw nothing out of the ordinary.

‘Just shy’

When one of the officers asked the brothers if there was a reason the two didn’t want to give their names during the tour, Thomas replied, “No, he was just, he’s shy,” pointing to his brother.

Thomas told reporters Thursday that he stayed quiet because his brother stayed quiet.

“I explained to both subjects that if they had simply cooperated and given their names when asked and their situation about being late, that no one would have found them to be suspicious,” officer Hoisington put in his report.

Lorraine Gray couldn’t be reached by phone Friday.

The female caller’s name was redacted from the campus police report and from the audio recording of her 911 call. She was described as a white, 45-year-old Colorado woman with blond or strawberry blond hair. On the call, she says she’s an artist.

The mother told the dispatcher that she may be acting paranoid. But she said that the situation “actually made me feel sick.”

“I feel completely ridiculous,” she also said. “They’re probably fine; they’re just creepy kids.”

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