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NASHVILLE, Ind. (Feb. 19, 2016) – A man attacked a foreign exchange student from Brown County High School with a hatchet in downtown Nashville Thursday, leaving her with as serious but not life-threatening injury to her back, police say.

Officers from the Brown County Sheriff’s Office and Nashville Police Department were dispatched to the corner of Van Buren and Gould streets near the courthouse in response to the attack.

They found an 18-year-old exchange student from China who’d suffered a substantial cut to her back. School officials said she was taking photographs of the area with her class. Witnesses said the teen was hunched over and crying from being in excruciating pain.

“It’s scary and sad that they would do something to a poor little innocent girl like that,” said Nashville Business owner, Tina Hunt, who witnessed the aftermath of the attack.

Investigators found Dana Ericson, 59, with a hatchet and arrested him on a number of charges, including attempted murder, aggravated battery causing serious permanent disfigurement and battery by means of a deadly weapon. Witnesses said Ericson may have a mental illness.

“The guy didn’t act right. He wasn’t normal,” one witness said.

According to court documents, Ericson told police he was attempting to “perpetrate ethnic cleansing.” He also told officers he wanted to “make a point,” and that he “hates these people.” The Brown County Prosecutor’s Office said it is currently reviewing the case for charges.

School officials said they welcome many foreign exchange students to Brown County each year and don’t believe there’s any cause for concern.

“When you hear of some kind of incident like this happening, it’s kind of riveting to you. You don’t expect this to happen at all,” said Brown County Superintendent, David Shaffer.

The student was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital for further evaluation. She was treated at the hospital and released, according to the sheriff’s office. School officials say she’s doing well. They said her biggest concern was missing a chemistry test. She’s expected to be back at school next week.

According to the Bloomington Herald-Times, Ericson an extensive criminal record and history of psychological issues.