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Reward in Madison hate crime investigation doubled to $10,000

MADISON (WKOW) -- A nonprofit has doubled the reward, to $10,000, for information leading to an arrest in a Madison hate crime from last week.

The Madison Police Department announced the increased reward in an updated incident report Tuesday.

The Center for Combating Antisemitism, a division of the international nonprofit StandWithUs, in partnership with the Mizel Family Foundation has offered $5,000 for information leading to an arrest or conviction, according to police.

The money is in addition to a $5,000 reward from Madison Area Crime Stoppers, bringing the total to $10,000.

Those wishing to submit a tip can do so to Madison Area Crime Stoppers at (608) 266-6014 or by computer via

While waiting for a green light at the intersection of Gorham and State Street around 1 a.m. on June 24, Althea Bernstein says four white men called her a racial slur, before attacking her, and setting her on fire with lighter fluid. Bernstein is bi-racial.

Director of the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism Carly Gammill says the motivation for the crime could involve several aspects.

"None of us can know at this point what was in those individuals, what they knew or didn't know," Gammill says. "But it doesn't change the fact that she is in fact Jewish." Gammill says the contribution to the reward fund is a first for her organization. She says with the potential for this alleged hate crime to involve the victim's identification as Jewish, the financial support to try to solve the crime squares with the center's mission. "We're there to incentivize people to come forward," Gammill says. "And it may come out in the course of the investigation and any further legal action exactly what was known," she says.

Bernstein's driver's side window was down when she heard someone yell out a racial epithet. She told police she looked and saw four white men. One used a spray bottle to put liquid on her face and neck and then threw a lighter at her. The liquid went up in flames.

Bernstein drove forward and was able to pat out the flames before driving home where her mother encouraged her to go to the hospital, according to police.

She was treated for burns and hospital staff think the liquid spray on her was lighter fluid.

Immediately after the crime took place, Madison Police officials say detectives were trying to determine if what happened was captured on any cameras. A city camera is affixed to the traffic signal light at the State Street intersection where authorities believe the attack occurred. Police spokesperson Joel DeSpain declines comment on any video evidence, citing the investigation as active and ongoing.


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