By Katina Caraganis
LUNENBURG -- Lunenburg and state police on Tuesday were tight-lipped about what prompted a search of the home of the couple who reported finding racist graffiti on their house's foundation on Nov. 15.
After the 90-minute search, an officer left the home with a brown paper bag. Officers at the scene declined to say why they were visiting and what the bag contained.
Andrea Brazier and Anthony Phillips, parents of former eighth-grade Lunenburg High School football player Isaac Phillips, reported finding a racial slur spray-painted on their house Nov. 15. Phillips is biracial, and the message said "Knights don't need n******."
A few days after the graffiti was reported, Superintendent of Schools Loxi Jo Calmes said Lunenburg High would forfeit all remaining football games for the season, including their Thanksgiving Eve game.
On Monday, police announced that the Lunenburg High School football team had been cleared in the graffiti incident and that the investigation was still under way.
On Tuesday afternoon, after 2 p.m., residents, news crews and curious motorists camped out at the end of the Phillips' Chase Road driveway as a police cruiser sat blocking access to the driveway.
About an hour and a half later, police left with a large brown paper bag and placed it in the trunk of an unmarked cruiser.
A state trooper on the scene said he believed no new information would be released.
Anthony Phillips initially was sitting on his front steps when officers were first inside the home, and then he began pacing and going in and out of the home numerous times until officers left.
Brazier was inside for much of the search but came out shortly before officers left.
Isaac Phillips did not appear to be at home during the search. Since the graffiti incident, he has transferred from Lunenburg High School and enrolled at a middle school in Leominster.
Anthony Phillips briefly addressed reporters after police left his home, saying they "could camp outside his home all day" but he would not comment.
When approached later by a Sentinel & Enterprise reporter as he was waiting for his children to get off the bus, Phillips said he had said what he needed to say and was just waiting for the investigation to play out.
When questioned about his reaction to rumors that he was somehow responsible for the graffiti and that he had been bragging about it, he got angry.
"That shows you just how racist this town really is," he said.
When reached via text message, Brazier said the family would not make any more public comments.
"Unfortunately, we will not be making a statement at this time," she wrote. "If/when we do, I will be sure to call you."
When asked what was brought out of the home in the bag, Brazier did not respond.
Earlier Tuesday, parents of some of the players on the football team met behind closed doors with police.
Standing outside Lunenburg police headquarters after the meeting, Les Szabady, father of Lunenburg High football player Danny Szabady, said he didn't want to speculate about who could be behind the incident, adding that he knows how much it hurts when people are wrongly accused.
Szabady, who had publicly requested that the team be allowed to play again now that they've been cleared of all charges, was not optimistic that will happen.
"You can't really go back," he said. "The decisions were made. That's up to the school and the teams. That would be terrific, but you never know."
Danny Szabady said the allegations surrounding the graffiti incident have put a lot of people's lives in chaos.
"Everything has just gotten so turned upside down," he said. "I can't believe someone would do this and then blame the football team. Our season is gone. I'm disappointed. We shouldn't have lost it."
"It's gross to think someone did this and just stood back and let us take the blame for this," said Greg McGrath, another senior on the team. "We took the fall."
Lisa McNamara was outside the Phillips home with her daughter, Makayla, a sophomore soccer player at the high school.
While the pair said they do not know Isaac or his family, they said they had been following the news, and when they saw the crowd of people at the home, they wanted to see what was happening.
"I thought this whole thing was out of control since day one," Lisa McNamara said. "Isaac's 13 years old. If one of his peers did it, I'm not saying it's right and I'm not saying I support it, but kids do things without thinking."
She said she believes the police know more than they're letting on.
Although she offered no proof, McNamara said, "I think, personally, that Andrea (Brazier) is being arrested. This is a small town. We don't have a great football team. They always thought Isaac's skills were better, and they wanted him to go to Leominster all along."
Makayla McNamara said the talk at school lately has been about what evidence has been found at the home and to whom it points.
"I think if a kid did it, it would have been spread around," she said. "Kids talk. A kid wouldn't likely have acted alone. I never knew Isaac personally. People at school aren't racist. I mean I'm white, so I don't always see it, but I'm friends with a lot of black people and they said they've never had a problem with racism in the town or school before."
She said she has heard the N-word used in school before but not in a negative way, she said.
"It was never meant for hate when they say it," she said.
The investigation involves the FBI, the Worcester District Attorney's Office, and local and state police.
Multiple phone calls to Police Chief James Marino and Lt. Mike Luth were not returned Tuesday night.
The discovery of the graffiti followed two separate football games against Worcester South in which racial slurs were used during games. One of the games was ended early because tensions were running high.
Athletic Director Peter McCauliff apologized to Worcester South Community High School students last month for conduct exhibited by Lunenburg football players during two separate games earlier in November.
The Lunenburg varsity football team played a home game against Worcester South on Nov. 1. During the game, a coach from Worcester South reported to a referee that a Lunenburg player used racist language toward Worcester South players. The player was questioned, and the referee was satisfied the remark was not made.
Three days later, the junior-varsity team traveled to Worcester South and had their game ended early by a referee when a shoving match between both squads broke out. Referees reported hearing racially insensitive language used by Lunenburg players.
McCauliff said the school's investigation showed that racial slurs were in fact used by Lunenburg players in both games. The persons involved have not been identified, and the investigation has shifted to trying to determine who was involved.
McCauliff said he and administrators from Worcester South met to discuss the progress of the investigation, and it was determined the first step in the mending process would be for McCauliff to formally apologize to the group. McCauliff apologized to South High players Nov. 23.
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