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Berthoud Police Investigate Possible Hate Crime Against Exchange Student

BERTHOUD, Colo. (CBS4) - A black foreign exchange student from Germany says she was viciously attacked in a park in Berthoud. Now police are calling it a hate crime.

Police say a group of white men accosted the 15-year-old student in Bein Park, which is right next to Berthoud High School.

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

The 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.

"I'm stunned. This doesn't happen. We don't have a racial problem here," student Morgan Madden said.

"Everybody wants to find the guys who did it and beat them up," student Kaylena Young said.

The exchange student said she was walking home from a track meet. She said the four white men appeared to be non-students in their 20s.

"They made some racially intimidating and frightening comments to the young lady," Chief Glen Johnson with Berthoud police said. "One of the young men did cause some minor injuries to this young lady."

The injuries were said to be knife cuts to her forehead.

The Thompson School District issued a statement saying, "We're concerned for her safety and well-being, and are providing whatever support we can."

Berthoud is a town of around 5,200 people north of Longmont. There are not many black citizens there, and reports of racial incidents are rare, if not unknown.

"I don't know her personally, but the information that she's given leads us to believe she is telling the truth to us," Johnson said.

"I'm deeply saddened and I just can't believe it," parent 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."

The girl is reported to be doing better, but quite shaken by the incident. She was at school on Monday.

Police say they have descriptions of the suspects, but no one is currently in custody.

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