Scott and Buckley Fricker (ABC News video screenshot)

Roughly two months before a 17-year-old Virginia teen allegedly shot his girlfriend’s parents to death, neighbors say a giant swastika was mowed into the grass of a community lot. Instead of notifying the police, they told the teen’s family. Some now regret making that decision.

The mowed swastika was roughly 40 feet across, and tire marks from a riding mower led from the hate symbol directly to the home of the teen, which removed any doubt as to who the perpetrator was, the Washington Post reports.

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Penny Potter, a neighbor of the teen, told the Post that she wanted to share the story of the swastika as a cautionary tale about early-warning signs that can lead to tragedy. She said she doesn’t know if 48-year-old Scott Fricker and his wife, 43-year-old Buckley Kuhn-Fricker, would still be alive if neighbors had contacted the police about the swastika instead of the teen’s family, but she believes the likelihood is greater that they would be.

“We live in a very safe neighborhood where kids can ride their bikes and not worry about anything,” Potter told the Post. “For the first time, I was fearful that there was someone living in our neighborhood who was capable of incredibly irrational behavior.

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“If you see something that makes you say ‘Huh,’ just call police. They can tell you if it’s appropriate,” she added.

A neighbor called Potter’s husband about the swastika around Oct. 20 or Oct. 23 because he sometimes mows the community lot. He took a photo of it and described it to Potter, saying that it was roughly 40 feet across and 40 feet tall. It was, he told her, unmistakably a Nazi symbol.

As a group, some neighbors decided to tell the boy’s parents about it. His parents admitted that he had, in fact, mowed the symbol into the grass. They said they were aware of his issues and were trying to get him help.

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The teen’s name has not been released, since he has not been charged as an adult. The confrontation allegedly took place in the Fricker home early Friday when the girlfriend’s parents heard a noise in her room and went up to check, according to family members. They found the boyfriend in her room.

When Scott Fricker confronted him, the teen allegedly pulled out a gun and shot him.

According to the Post, Fairfax County police would not confirm family-member accounts of what happened; nor would they discuss how the teen might have gotten his hands on the firearm.

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Police spokeswoman Julie Parker said, “We aren’t releasing anything further at this point as he is a minor.”

Read more at the Washington Post.