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Man hurls racial slurs at students

A bearded man in a tan minivan slowed down in front of the Gooch-Dillard bus stop Monday evening and yelled racial epithets to bystanders, said police, who are searching for clues about the driver.

A black female student reported that she was waiting at the bus stop Monday, along with two other black students and two Asian students, when the man stopped and shouted. She said he yelled several racial slurs including "Kill the Jews" and "niggers."

He yelled he was going to kill the minorities and they had better be prepared, said the student, who spoke under the condition of anonymity.

The man drove off after a University bus came up behind him and the driver honked the horn.

The witness said she and the other students stood in shocked silence before boarding the bus. She was so shaken up, she said, that she left class and called the police.

University Police are now investigating the incident, said Capt. Michael Coleman, who added he has heard through the grapevine of at least one other similar incident.

But Monday's confrontation is the only one of its type that has been reported directly to the police for investigation.

Coleman said all that is known about the suspect now is that he is at least 50 years old, has gray hair and a gray mustache and beard.

The student witness said he looked like Santa Claus.

Coleman said the witness did not see the van's license plate and that University Police are asking anybody who has any information about the incident - or has experienced similar harassment - to contact University Police so they can put together a better description.

At this point, police are not sure of the man's ethnicity.

African-American Affairs Dean M. Rick Turner said he also had heard of several incidents involving a man driving a tan van harassing people at bus stops, including ones at the Treehouse and in front of the Commerce School.

Coleman said he could not comment about the ongoing investigation, but he said the man could be charged with either "curse and abuse" or "breach of the peace," which are misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail or a $2,500 fine.