FBI investigating assault of Fargo girl for possible hate crimes violations

FARGO (KVRR) – The FBI is investigating an assault in Fargo in which a man is accused of striking and choking an 11-year-old girl during a confrontation in September.

According to a memo to Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski,  federal investigators are examining the complaint against 73-year-old Larry Baldner.  The memo says the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are reviewing the case for possible federal hate crimes violations.

The girl and four boys were playing basketball in the 2700-block of 33-1/2 Ave. S. when Baldner allegedly called them the “n” word and told them to get off his property.  Baldner is accused of slapping the girl on the face, grabbing her by the hair and neck, and lifting her off the ground, partially choking her for 5-6 seconds.

There was no indication when the federal investigation would be completed.

The memo, from Fargo Police Capt. Chris Helmick, also reveals that the FBI has been examining the case of a Barnesville, Minn. woman who was accused of spray-painting a Jesus statue outside St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Fargo.  The memo says that even though the FBI did ‘t find any “definitive bias,” the case is still being investigated to see if it fits federal guidelines.

City prosecutors charged Whitten with misdemeanor criminal mischief.

The memo says that over the course of 2021, Fargo Police took 17 reports where the initial responding officer indicated a possible bias by the offender.  Out of 17 reports, three had facts that supported the initial designation.

The FBI declined to investigate a July 13 incident in Fargo in which a suspect was accused of pulling a knife on a victim and walked aggressively toward him.   The suspect was arrested for terrorizing and the case is pending prosecution.

On Aug. 4, police took a report report of a man yelling racial slurs at a black female and yelled “you’re going to die”  before driving away.  The suspect, who could not be identified, drove away.  That case is considered “inactive” until further info is available.