BERTHOUD, Colo. (CBS4)– Police investigating a hate crime attack on an exchange student from Germany have released a sketch of the suspect in hopes of tracking him down.
Police say the men confronted the 15-year-old 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 suspect in the sketch also has a tattoo with an “SS 11. The SS bolts are a Nazi symbol signifying the Schutzstaffel (SS) Heinrich Himmler’s police forces whose members ranged from agents of the Gestapo to soldiers of the Waffen SS to the guards at concentration and death camps. The symbol is frequently seen in neo-Nazi tattoos and graffiti and characterizes the beliefs of neo-Nazis and racist skinheads which usually include violence, anti-Semitism, white supremacy and fascism.”
“Obviously the tattoo that we’ve sent a picture of is a white supremacist type of thing, but I couldn’t tell you if they belong to an organization or not,” Berthoud Police Chief Glenn Johnson said.
The Anti-Defamation League has condemned the reported attack. The group issues flyers that describe extremist logos.
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.”
Student Ryan Markham told CBS4 he’s never seen any white supremacists in Berthoud.
“There’s nothing like that in Berthoud. That’s crazy to even think of in this small town,” Markham said.
The girl was brought to the U.S. by an exchange program could Youth For Understanding. The program has notified the State Department and the FBI has also been called in to investigate. The German consulate has also been contacted.