Jan 162006
Authors: Vimal Patel

A black man was reportedly beaten by a pack of college-aged white men early Saturday morning near CSU, and police said Monday afternoon that they were "absolutely dependent" on the public to catch the attackers.

As the victim talked to one of the men on the sidewalk, three or four others jumped out of a full-sized brown van and assaulted him, said Lt. Jerry Schiager of Fort Collins Police Services.

Racial epithets were used during the assault, he said, but police and even the victim aren't sure if race was the cause.

The 24-year-old suffered bumps, bruises and has a scab on his face, but was not hospitalized, Schiager said.

But unless more leads are provided, the investigation into the attackers' identities is at a standstill, he said.

"We're absolutely dependent on other people coming forward," he said.

Shortly after 2 a.m., the victim was walking west on Laurel Street near Whitcomb Street from a bar where he was drinking. The man told police he didn't see the van until the three or four men got out, Schiager said.

The lieutenant said he was not sure what the victim and the man who interacted with him were talking about, except that the suspect asked him whether he had been drinking.

No one intervened, so it's unclear why the suspects stopped the assault. The victim, a Fort Collins resident, walked several blocks away to a friend's house to call police.

The episode placed a spotlight on the city's race relations, but area residents said Thursday bigotry is a universal problem and the incident does not represent the Fort Collins they know.

"I think people in Fort Collins are very open-minded," said Helena Kehagias, a freshman history major who lives in Parmelee Hall, which is adjacent to the area where the reported assault occurred. "Racism is going to happen everywhere."

She said Fort Collins is more tolerant than Las Vegas, Nev., where she used to live.

"Colorado, in general, is not as bad as other places," she said.

Fort Collins resident Gabriel Hawn agreed, saying the Saturday assault was an isolated incident.

"It's a bad thing, but I think violence does occur in large cities," he said while walking by the intersection of Laurel and Whitcomb streets.

Rex Alvarez, who lives near where the assault occurred, warned against jumping to conclusions about the cause of the early morning violence.

The assault could be related to what happened in the bar.

"You never know," he said.

But it's a changing town, the Fort Collins resident said, and with change and growth comes friction.

Schiager urged anyone with information to contact Fort Collins Police Services at (970) 221-6555.

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