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Eyewitness says Madison grocery store suspect menacing; petition urges hate crime charge

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MADISON (WKOW) - An eyewitness to an incident involving an attack outside a Madison grocery store tells 27 News the suspect acted in a menacing way inside the store, as a petition urges authorities to consider what happened a hate crime.

Madison Police say David Lythjohan, 65, of McFarland reached through a car window to attack a woman outside the Woodmans grocery store on Milwaukee Street Thursday during a heavy rain. Authorities describe Lythjohan's actions as a culmination of parking lot road rage, and say the victim's young children tried to stop the attack on their mother.

Shopper Charly Rowe tells 27 News she witnessed some of the encounter, and also saw Lythjohan inside the store prior to the attack.

"This man did stand out to me," Rowe says. "He wasn't wearing a mask and he kind of had this attitude. " Rowe says the man's attitude and behavior put her on guard. "It was that second trigger of that smell of somebody who had been drinking for awhile as I passed him that stuck in my brain."

In a video of Lythjohan's arrest and posted to Facebook by the victim, she maintains he also used racial slurs. The victim is black.

Rowe says the sound of the rain drowned out any conversation that may have taken place while she was watching. Madison Police Spokesperson Joel DeSpain tells 27 News reports on the incident make no note of any alleged racial slurs.

Lythjohan was booked into the Dane County jail on the tentative charges of battery and disorderly conduct. He was released the same day after $650 bail was posted and has a scheduled, court date in November.

A petition with more than 5,000 signatures calls for a hate crime to be lodged against Lythjohan.

Rowe says she believes the victim's account on video. "There is no way out of this being a hate crime when he used the words that he used," Rowe says, referring to what she's seen on video.

The victim did not make herself available for an interview with 27 News, but did provide 27 News with her video of portions of the incident.

The victim told Madison365 the attack on her was based on her race. "I feel like once he realized it was a Black person, he went into a rage," the woman told the publication.

27 News was unable Tuesday to reach Lythjohan for comment.

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Tony Galli

Reporter, WKOW

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