Police investigate possible hate crimes

Elmhurst College officials and students said they're alarmed about the attack here on the campus last night. They say it's part of a disturbing increase in hate crimes, not only on this campus but in the entire area.

Elmhurst college students rallied on campus, calling for an end to the hate which led to Thursday night's attack and other instances of vandalism around the school.

About 8:30 Thursday night a masked gunman attacked a Muslim student in a restroom in a building on campus. A week earlier, that same woman discovered a death threat in her locker. It says,'die Muslim,' and contais a swastika.

"I was terrified that this could happen to me in America, the land that I call home," said Soofia Ahmed, Elmhurst College student.

The campus was on briefly lockdown following the attack and Elmhurst police are investigating both incidents as hate crimes.

"The campus feels fairly safe. We would feel safer still if we had a perpetrator and we want this guy," said Charles Hendersen, Elmhurst College spokesperson.

The victim previously attended the foundations school in Villa Park, which has been the target of hate messages, four in the last two months.

"We would like to see the community stand with us at this point in time when a minority takes it upon itself to act in this malicious way," said S.H. Abdur R. Khan, Villa Park Mosque.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has documented a disturbing rise in hate crimes throughout the area.

"What we're seeing now is the increase in intensity and frequency in these types of crimes," said Ahmed Rehab, Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The victim in Thursday night's attempt at Elmhurst College suffered a concussion. She was knocked unconscious briefly. She and her family prefer to make no comment. Elmhurst police are investigating the incidents and hope to have the crimes solved as quickly as possible to reassure students on the campus of their safety.

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