Police Hunt for Colorado College Punter-Stabbing Accomplice

Police said Friday they are looking for a second suspect who allegedly helped Northern Colorado's backup punter plot the stabbing of a rival teammate earlier this week.

Witnesses saw an alleged accomplice standing near the getaway car Monday night just after punter Rafael Mendoza was stabbed in his kicking leg outside his Evans apartment, Lt. Gary Kessler said.

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Not long after the attack, a liquor store employee called police and said two men were removing tape from the front and rear license plates of a car in the parking lot. Once removed, the employee saw the license plate number read "8-KIKR," helping lead police to the family of suspect Mitch Cozad, Kessler said.

"We haven't ruled anything out and the investigation is still open," Kessler said. "But based on what we know, we're looking for two white males."

Cozad, of Wheatland, Wyo., remained free on $30,000 bond on suspicion of second-degree assault. Weld County prosecutors said they have until Sept. 22 to formally charge him.

Cozad is accused of stabbing Mendoza in the back of his kicking leg in a bizarre bid to win the starting job. Mendoza was treated and released from the hospital, but will miss Saturday's game at Texas State.

Cozad has been suspended from the university and evicted from his dorm room. He has not spoken publicly about the incident. Weld County officials said he has been granted permission to stay at his mother's home in Wheatland.

The 3 1/2-page arrest affidavit outlined a plot that had taken shape over at least a week.

Mendoza had spotted a suspicious man in his parking lot Sept. 7 and he sped into his apartment. Then, on Monday, he was returning home from study hall and was jumped from behind.

According to the affidavit, Mendoza was stabbed while he was on the ground and suffered a puncture wound 3- to 5-inches deep. He described the suspect as a man dressed in black sweat pants and a black hooded sweatshirt cinched together to reveal only the eyes; police say they have recovered a similar sweatshirt from Cozad's apartment.

The alleged accomplice was spotted near the getaway car, police said.

"He didn't play a role in the assault but he played a role in the crime," Kessler said. "He was dressed in black clothing. He was involved in the aftermath of the incident."