'My wife's scared of her life' - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

'My wife's scared of her life'

NW resident speaks after Sunday assault

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Posted: Tuesday, August 4, 2009 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:35 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

Myles and Karen Levine were at their Northwest home Tuesday morning, three days after someone sprayed graffiti – including a form of Swastika – sealed two of their doors with a hardening spray foam, and used chlorine tablets and another, as-yet unidentified chemical to create eye-burning fumes that prompted nearby evacuations.

The attack, now subject of a federal investigation, may have been a hate crime against the Levines, who are Jewish and live in a gated community near the Omni Tucson resort off Shannon and Magee.

Does Myles Levine feel comfortable at home?

"Honestly, not really," Levine said Tuesday, though "the county is keeping an eye on us. My wife's scared of her life."

The Levines were allowed back home Monday morning. That's when they saw the full extent of damage to their home from the early Sunday assault, "figured out what they sealed up the doors with," and regained entrance. "My brother was here. We got everything opened up. It wasn't that difficult." The sealant appeared to be a foam insulation that hardens after spraying.

The Levines heard nothing late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. It was warm in the house, so "my wife decided to turn the AC on. She looked out the front, and something didn't look right on the sidewalk. It looked like to her maybe her plants were on the sidewalk. She went to open the door, and she couldn't open the door."

Myles was awakened. "I tried to do the same thing," but couldn't move it. "I had her call the county right away."

On the phone with a dispatcher, Levine said he couldn't get out his front door, nor his garage, and described what he saw. "I described to her ice cubes, and on the back patio, something smoldering. It was putting out a lot of smoke, burning my wife's eyes. That door was wide open. They didn't bother to seal that door, apparently."

By this time, two officers were outside. He was told to "leave your house right now."

The substance produced "a funny smell. My wife had trouble breathing. I've been told it was a mixture of chlorine pellets and something, but I can't say that for sure."

For several hours, the couple sat outside with deputies and other emergency responders.

A cloud rose from the front of the house "a long time later," Levine said. "I looked up and said 'the house is on fire,'" yet firefighters were on the other side of the house. "They said 'no.'"

Levine is a diabetic who requires dialysis treatment. He had spinal fusion a week ago, and remains in a neck brace. "That's why I kind of keep to myself," said Levine, who's been retired since 1999.

Levine went to the hospital later Sunday because "my insulin pump was empty." He said personnel from Northwest Fire was "really nice to us the entire day. There were two volunteers with us the entire day, helping."

The Levines were the targets of a similar crime last Halloween, when their Dove Mountain house was tagged with anti-Semitic graffiti and death wishes. The perpetrators left at least one animal carcass on the property and attempted to disable the garage door.

The event in Dove Mountain "was somewhat similar to this, but there was a lot that was not similar. It was purely racially toned. We're Jewish."

On Sunday, Levine didn't see any dead animals. "They had this all cleaned up. We were told there were dead birds in oil. There was oil all over my sidewalk and my driveway."

The Levines moved to their new neighbhorhood after the North Marana attack.

"I just wish that whoever it is that hates us that much – why don't they just call me up and say 'hey, I hate you, and this is why, and let's straighten this out,'" Levine said. He's from Chicago, where any enemies "are going to show themselves to you, and it's going to get over with."

The last three days have been a media blitz for the couple. Reporters called early in the morning, and they continued calling Tuesday. He has been willing to speak with the press.

"This has all been public record all of a sudden, and I just felt it's going to be reported anyways, so it ought to be reported a little more about what my knowledge is," Levine said. "I have a lot of confidence right now in the FBI and Pima County that are involved with this now. Maybe more people have to know about something like this. It's not the best thing in the world."

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