By Jeff Todd

LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – Longmont police are searching for the suspect in a potential homicide case as a local family mourns the loss of a 100-year-old World War II Veteran. Ken Barhite was well known around the community for an active and energetic lifestyle that included several volunteering efforts, now the search is on for the man that assaulted him.

“He’d say hi to anybody on the street. That was part of his demise, saying hi to that guy. And just loving and giving and friendly,” said Lydia Tafoya, Barhite’s daughter.

(credit: CBS)

The incident occurred just after dinner on October 25, when Barhite was going for the second of his daily walks.

“Being the loving Christian man that he always was, he just said hello to the gentleman and it ticked him off evidently. They guy hollered at my dad, ‘I hate the N-word.’ And my dad stopped and looked at him and said I’m sorry you feel that way. Then he said he could hear the guy running up behind him,” Tafoya said.

Barhite was pushed and kicked. He had a total of five fractures to his hip, pelvis, lower back and spine. The injuries also caused a heart issue. He died from his injuries this week.

(credit: CBS)

Despite his age, Tafoya said she thought her dad would live several more years. Barhite was known around his retirement community for being involved in every activity, he’d do 30 push ups each day, and constantly walk around the complex.

“He was very well loved in his community that he lived in,” Tafoya said. “Now you have this entire community of seniors living in fear that ‘I’m going to go out for a walk, is it that person, is it that person?’ That’s not fair to them it’s not fair to the staff.”

Barhite was able to give police a limited description, that he believed the suspect was white and wearing pants with a blue checkered pattern on them. Police are hoping surveillance video or other witnesses will come forward with more information.

(credit: Lydia Tafoya)

Tafoya said she doesn’t think her father would want a harsh punishment for his assailant.

“He couldn’t have been in his right mind to do this to me and you can’t prosecute someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing and that’s so my dad and his forgive and forget attitude.”

Investigators ask anyone who knows more about this assault or the suspect to call them at 303-774-4392.

Jeff Todd