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A knife attack in the Lowell Elementary School playground Tuesday night has left a Missoula man with more than 50 stitches from slashes to his head and neck.

Police are looking for a suspect age 20 to 25 with a dark complexion, standing about 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a stocky build. He was last seen wearing white cutoff shorts, a gray short-sleeved shirt, dark sunglasses and a blue or gray bandanna on his hair.

The victim, whose identity has not been released, told Missoula police officers the suspect knocked on his door at the Economy 1 Motel on Broadway about 10 p.m. Tuesday night. It's unclear if the suspect was allowed in or forced his way into the motel room. He apparently was looking for another person, who was not there.

The suspect then made the victim walk to the Lowell School grounds, about three blocks away. At the playground, he then slashed the victim several times on the head and neck with a hunting knife. The victim fought back, and the suspect ran away. The victim then asked for help at a home on Phillips Street.

Officers are uncertain what the suspect was after, although they believe he asked for money at one point in the incident.

"We've got a lot to sort through here," Lt. Jim Neumayer said Wednesday morning.

Officers are looking for witnesses who may have seen the suspect at the Economy 1 Hotel before the attack occurred. Anyone with information is asked to call 523-4777 or Crimestoppers at 721-4444.

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com

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