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Berthoud Residents React To Alleged Hate Crime On Exchange Student

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Ellen Bunyan Bein Park in Berthoud (credit: CBS)

Ellen Bunyan Bein Park in Berthoud (credit: CBS)

CONTEST

BERTHOUD, Colo. (CBS4) – Police in Berthoud are looking for several men involved in an attack on a 15-year-old girl and it’s being investigated as a hate crime.

Police say the men confronted the girl last Thursday at Ellen Bunyan Bein Park next to Berthoud High School and slashed her with a knife.

The attackers are all white and believed to be in their 20s. Police believe they targeted the girl because she’s black. Police say they have good descriptions of the suspects and are confident they will catch them.

The girl is a junior at Berthoud High School and an exchange student from Germany. Last Thursday she was walking home through the park when she said she was accosted by four men.

Police say they have little doubt it was racially motivated because she said the men told her that they were looking for a minority — a Hispanic or gay, but a black would do. They then told her to bend down, and bow down. She was then slashed with a knife in the forehead.

Despite the wound, the teen managed to get home.

Residents of Berthoud are now calling for justice.

“I’m deeply saddened and I just can’t believe it,” Sheren Madden said. “I’m so sad that this happened to her … I know that it happens but I don’t expect that to happen in Berthoud.”

Rachel Ehnert is a Berthoud High School senior and a friend of the victim.

“It’s scary enough coming to a whole different country and to have that happen is just sick,” Ehnert said.

Ehnert says the victim is someone special.

“She’s in my physics class and I know she gets all A’s. She’s like really, really smart, and she’s incredibly sweet,” Ehnert said.

Michelle Harrigfeld has lived in Berthoud her entire life. She says she’s worried the attack has changed the town forever.

“You feel like you have a safe environment and that took a lot of the safety away,” Harrigfeld said.

Police say they’re pursuing several leads, and in a small town where everybody knows their neighbors, Police Chief Glenn Johnson said he’s certain that justice will be served.

“I’m pretty confident,” Johnson said.

The family hosting the exchange student told CBS4 she’s doing very well and thanked police for all their hard work.

Johnson told CBS4 police hope to release sketches of the suspects soon.

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