Man arrested in stabbing
Victim: 'Words can't express how happy I am'
July 12, 2007
Steamboat Springs — A 29-year-old Michigan man was arrested at a construction site Wednesday afternoon on suspicion he stabbed a black man during an argument July 6 at Sunpie’s Bistro.
The incident may have been racially motivated, police said.
Police Capt. Joel Rae said Christopher Allen Hamm, who is white, is facing charges of second-degree assault, a Class 4 felony, and bias-motivated crime, a Class 5 felony. The arrest comes after a five-day investigation of the alleged assault, he said.
“Obviously there was concern why there wasn’t an immediate arrest, but because we were called after the fact and had to retrace all the steps to complete a thorough investigation, it took some time,” he said.
Rae said Hamm was taken into custody without incident while working at a construction site on the mountain. Hamm does not live in Steamboat Springs, but is in town working for construction company Hamm Masonry. Rae described Hamm as a white man standing 5 feet, 11 inches tall.
Hamm allegedly stabbed Alfred Turner, a black man, in the thigh after telling Turner to “leave our white women alone” as Turner was talking to two women at the bar on Yampa Street. Turner said Hamm referred to himself as a Nazi during the confrontation. Although the incident occurred around 10 p.m., police were not called until more than an hour later. Turner took a cab to the hospital where he received 20 stitches, he said.
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Despite making an arrest in the case, police still are investigating the incident, Rae said.
Turner, who still has not returned to work since the incident, was happy police had arrested a suspect.
“That is fantastic. Words can’t express how happy I am,” he said.
Turner said he intends to follow Hamm’s case through the court system.
“I can see getting into a fight with someone over some differences, but when your intent is to inflict harm on someone, that’s entirely different,” he said.
As a black man, Turner said he has been in situations involving his ethnicity before.
“It’s happened to me before but only word exchanges : things you walk away from,” he said. “Nobody has ever been this aggressive to me.”
Rae said the alleged assault could be classified as a hate crime.
“Hate crimes are very serious,” he said. “They are not tolerated by society, our community or our police department. It’s something we take very seriously.”
Rae said reported hate crimes are not common in Steamboat Springs.
“What happened is not a reflection of our community,” he said.
Bruce H. DeBoskey, the Anti-Defamation League’s Mountain States regional director, supported the police department’s investigation Wednesday.
“It is imperative that the perpetrators of hate crimes receive a strong message that their hateful beliefs are not shared be the general public,” he said. “Hate crimes are not like other crimes, because they have an impact far beyond the individual victim of the crime.”
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