VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Authorities are investigating after a small rope in the shape of a noose was found in a tree earlier this week at Newtown Elementary in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

“I am horrified by what can only be seen as a racially motivated act and can assure our community that VBCPS does not tolerate acts of hate of any kind,” said Virginia Beach Superintendent Aaron Spence in a message to the school community. “We will fully support and cooperate with our law enforcement partners to ensure this matter is thoroughly investigated.”

A school district spokesperson says the rope was found on Tuesday by a staff member.

The district’s Office of Security and Emergency Management is also investigating the matter in addition to police, who have increased patrols at the school.

“The safety and security, both physically and emotionally, of our students and staff is our top priority and VBCPS does not tolerate acts of hate of any kind,” statement sent to Newtown families reads. “Counselors are available for students and staff who are in need of support.”

The district asks anyone who might have information in the case to contact the Virginia Beach Police Department.