Couple Assaulted During Once-in-a-Blue-Moon Walk on Sundial Bridge

Stars above the Sundial Bridge. Photo by Aaron Patterson.

All Friday evening as I worked at my computer I had the nagging urge to go for a night walk to see the full moon.

Let’s see. Where does a single woman feel most safe to walk alone at night in Redding? For me, that’s the Sundial Bridge. The magnetic pull to the bridge was so great that I found myself wondering if I would meet someone interesting there. I changed clothes, put on some lipstick and exchanged my big “office” purse for my little “walking” purse that just holds keys and my wallet with some business cards.

It was after 9 p.m. when I left for my blue-moon walk. As I entered the Convention Center parking lot a small beat-up car sped out, driving like a bat out of hell. Full moon, here we come, I thought. (Let me just stop and say that no, I couldn’t tell you what the car looked like. I’d make a lousy witness because all I remember is the car was dirty and small and boxy. This explanation will make sense in a second.)

Moon’s reflection in the Sacramento River photographed from the Sundial Bridge deck. Photo by Karen Ball

I parked my car and had only walked a short distance when I spotted a clot of Redding Police vehicles crammed at the entrance to the Sundial Bridge near Turtle Bay Museum.

No pen. No notebook. Damn. I felt naked and ill-equipped. I walked toward the bridge, and noticed a middle-aged woman with short hair leaning over near an RPD squad car bumper. She had a small dog on a leash. No police officers were in sight, but at least one cruiser’s engine was still running.

The short-haired woman was telling people to get back, that a “crazy man” was on the loose, that he had a gun and a knife and he’d already assaulted a number of people before his escape. The woman spent a few minutes trying to talk a pair of women from Alberta, Canada, out of walking the bridge, and as the woman talked, the Canadians kept craning their necks and inching nearer to the bridge.

“Uh, isn’t there a river that goes under the bridge?” asked one woman.

The short-haired woman said yes, but come back tomorrow to see it, and the moon for that matter, but not tonight, because there was that crazy man somewhere on the grounds, and he hadn’t been found yet. It was too dangerous to go on the bridge now, she said. pointing out that the police nor the security guard had barricaded the bridge from visitors, which was reckless, in her opinion.

I bumped into Carla Jackson (one of anewscafe.com’s talented writers, btw), with her husband Mark Olney. Just like me, and so many others there, they’d arrived at the Sundial Bridge for a stroll and to see the full moon. They told how, as they approached the bridge, they heard someone yelling one word – “help” – over and over, almost like a cadance. This was before the police arrived, but they’d also noticed a clump of people standing and gesturing in a way that made Carla and Mark feel as if something was wrong. (The woman shouting about a dangerous man who’d not been “comprehended” – that was another tip-off.)

Carla and Mark said they heard stories from various people around the bridge that a man and a woman were each punched in the face, and that the hitter had then threatened to stab a girl and throw her over the bridge. My friends hadn’t seen the man, but they pointed me toward the couple who’d been attacked.

I briefly borrowed the Turtle Bay security officer’s pen to scratch tiny notes in the dark on a business card. Kim Conant, 56, and Tim Murray, 58, both of Redding, had come to the Sundial Bridge so Conant could take some photos of the moon near the bridge. Conant said Murray was talking to a man with darkish skin coloring, about 6 feet tall, weighing about 250 pounds or more, shortish hair, wearing an orange-red baseball cap. He carried a large backpack. Both Murray and Conant were under the impression the man was a transient.

Conant said that completely out of nowhere, totally unprovoked, the man with the baseball cap punched Murray in the face, knocking him to the ground. Murray picked up the man’s backpack and started swinging it to keep the man from hitting him again.  The man punched Conant in the face, too, just as she’d stepped back to dial 911.

‘The bridge was packed,” Murray said. “I started yelling for help,”  adding that people started backing up, away from them, which was what he hoped would happen, so nobody else would get hurt.

The couple said that baseball hat guy started heading for the Arboretum side of the bridge, and along the way, he threatened a young woman who’d started talking on her cell phone.

After that the police arrived with a K-9 unit, and fanned out in search of the man.

The Turtle Bay security guard said he’d never seen anything like this happen before on his shift, with the exception of the summer night that a young pregnant woman was attacked.

Meanwhile, the short-haired woman with the leashed dog stood at the entrance and alternated her speech between turning people away and complaining about the police and Turtle Bay’s security guard. When officers returned to their cars, and the woman yelled and asked if they’d found the man, one of the officers replied no, they hadn’t. This prompted an escalated tirade from the short-haired woman, who promised to call the officers’ boss –  “Ron”  – the next day to complain, to which one of the officers said the woman could go ahead and do that.  (By the way, the police chief’s first name is Robert.)

Back at the bridge, Conant, who happens to be the mother of a son and daughter who were Marines, said this was the first time in her life that she’d been assaulted, that if she’d had any idea of the man’s intentions to punch her, she would have first kicked him in the balls.  Conant, whose face looked like it was starting to swell, said she felt pretty shaken.

Murray had the most apparent injuries, with a bloody lip, and a banged-up elbow and leg.  Murray said he might have hit his head on the bridge railing, too. Murray said he also lost a $500 pair of Titanium-and-wire prescription sunglasses in the assault, glasses he needs for his electrical contracting business, Power by Tim. At one point I worried if maybe Murray had suffered a severe head injury, because he mentioned something about “Messiah on a Fridgidaire” and that his name was Reverend Cecil Hodges. When I asked if he was related to another Hodges I know, Murray said no, he was talking about his part in an upcoming Riverfront Playhouse performance, “Messiah on a Fridgidaire”.

Speaking of missing segues, from a clump of trees along a paved road in the shadows came a group of touring segways that motored by. The helmeted riders had impassive expressions as they listened via headsets to their tour guide’s message. The segwayists seemed oblivious to the violent events that had transpired at Turtle Bay that night, or the fact that somewhere in the dark was a man wanted by police for attacking a couple who’d come to the bridge to do nothing more than enjoy the evening air and photograph the moon.

Eventually, a police officer asked Murray if he needed a ride to the hospital, an offer Murray declined. The police cars left, with the short-haired woman yelling as they drove off.

At first, Conant and Murray said they would resume their evening as planned, by going to one of their favorite restaurants, Tortuga Bay Grill, but then they realized it might be too late, that the restaurant was probably closed by then. The couple left.

People streamed onto and off of the bridge: a father and daughter, a bearded man on a bike, an elderly man who pushed a woman in a wheelchair, two men who spoke to each other with sign language, some guys with dogs, and many couples, all out for an evening stroll. The security guard leaned against the planter and surveyed the scene.

I accepted Carla and Mark’s offer to walk across the bridge with them, since that’s why I’d come in the first place.

We passed droplets of bright red blood that glistened on the glass panels under the light of the moon – a blue moon, peering from behind valley oaks, taking it all in.

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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43 Responses

  1. don williams don williams says:

    Great story Doni. Did you give the police a description of the car you saw, it might have been a little late, but you never know.

    • <ins datetime="2012-09-01T08:30:44+00:00"><ins datetime="2012-09-01T08:30:08+00:00">No, I didn't tell the police. Actually, I'd forgotten all about the car until I started writing the story, and wringing my brain out for details. I really, truly could not have given a reliable description. The only reason I remembered the car at all was that it was going so very fast.</ins>

  2. Avatar Aaron says:

    CRAZY!!! This is not something you expect to see at the bridge.

  3. Avatar Corliss Bonney says:

    Unfortunately, I got tied up doing homework because I really wanted to take my 9 year old to the bridge to see the moon! Fortunately, I got tied up doing homework because even the bridge doesn't seem to be as safe as one would think of their hometown sights anymore! What the hell has happened to our 'little' Redding? I am sad….

  4. Avatar Dotje says:

    I think we in Redding are going to have to face the fact that our streets, parks, and facilities have become the "home" for many early release parolees and also a large number of unfortunates that need serious mental health care with no local mental health facilities. We are all now in danger of close encounters with people who don't behave as we expect, day or night. It's hard to blame police for not aggressively purduing miscreants when they know they will be laughed at by the same in a couple of hours. Our jail's revolving door allows the criminals that are destroying our peace to blatantly thumb their noses at justice as they ignore the court dates that might send them to prison. This is, in my opinion, a result of the state's lack of diligence and horrible mismanagement of its prison system, as well as its' total disregard for the need, at the state level, of housing and medical care for the seriously mentally ill, who become dangerous when left to fend for themselves on our streets.

    • Avatar Aileen Fry says:

      Ai so agree with you Dotje, Was gone for 20 years, am now back and Oh My, the shock. What happened to our sweet city6 indeed. Saddens me but Ai am home again.

  5. Avatar Elaine says:

    Thanks, Doni, for telling the story without sensationalism, but mostly for sharing the care and concern shown by other community members.

  6. Valerie Ing-Miller Valerie Ing-Miller says:

    This kind of freaks me out. I smelled a rat when the last assault happened – just didn't feel like something like that would happen randomly at the Sundial Bridge, but Tim is a friend of mine, and a very nice guy. (Thanks for fixing my hot tub, by the way.) I've known him for several years. I'm a little stunned right now.

  7. Avatar Canda Williams says:

    Oh my gosh, I too would have thought the bridge would have been a perfectly safe place to view the moon. Great story, Doni, but so sad.

  8. Avatar Darlene Storms-Montg says:

    Doni,

    Lucky for your readers that you were in close proximity of the scene. There was no mention in Saturday's newspaper about the attack, and it is doubtful many of us would have known that it had happened were it not for your reporting of it.

    It amazes me that this happened when the bridge was full of people. I always think of these kinds of events taking place late at night, when no one is around.

    Thanks for being there.

  9. Avatar Heisenberg says:

    This was the least climactict and pointless report, ever. Why make an assault into a story? This wasn't about you. Or was it? I don't know.

  10. Avatar Kim Conant says:

    @Heisenberg- It would not have been so climactict and pointless if it had been you getting punched in the face for wanting to take a picture of a rare event. I was the women who was punched in the face. What would you say if it was your sister or your mother? I can't believe that with all of the concerned people out of the bridge last night (I want to thank all of you who inquired about our well being, especially Joe from The Beadman, and tried to help find Tim's glasses. It was amazing the support we got from complete strangers). As for Heisenberg, I take it you are an angry person and someone who never gets invloved unless it's for your own benefit. All I have to say to you is, SHAME ON YOU!!!

    @Doni-Thank you for the accurate account of last night's happenings. It was very well written and your memory without taking notes was very impressive. People need to know that there is a real threat out there. And it's too bad that you can't even take a walk without having to keep your guard up.

    • You're welcome, Kim. I know I speak for everyone at anewscafe.com when I say that I am horrified by what happened to you, and I wish you and Tim both complete recoveries.

      (You know, one thing I never knew, and didn't even think to ask, was where was the security guard during this assault?)

      Thank you for coming by anewscafe.com, and sharing your thoughts with us. We wish you the very best.

  11. Avatar funnygirl says:

    I always have my pepper spray.with me at all times….if u havea gun and can pac then u should have that with you..especially when u walk at night! I don't care where. You're at u should always be prepared especially NOW….ummm HELLO????

    • Avatar Kim Conant says:

      You don't expect to get assaulted just taking a walk. I'm glad you're prepared, but you never expect a thing like that to happen to you. You can chastise all you want, but you keep your spray with you and never let your guard down!

    • I see your point, but I cringe at the thought of people on the Sundial Bridge carrying loaded guns for protection. Someone would have to be a pretty good shot – under pressure – to hit the intended target and not injure someone in the crowd … all those kids and families and tourists on the Sundial Bridge on almost any given night … it's a sobering thought.

      As an aside, someone posted on FB (in response to this story) her account of being threatened by a group of hoodlums (for lack of a better word) while walking along South Market on her way to pick up her car from am auto repair shop. The group only left her alone after she told them she had a weapon (she had a box-cutter for her job).

      I don't know what the answer is, but my heart also goes out to law enforcement, who must feel frustrated by the revolving door of criminals who are caught and released so quickly.

      A few people have mentioned that they didn't see a report about this incident anywhere else in the news. I didn't get a press release about the Sundial Bridge incident, but I can tell you that at anewscafe.com, we get daily press releases from the police department and Shasta County Sheriff's Office, sometimes more than we can keep up with and post.

      So, it does make one wonder how many crimes are happening that aren't shared with the public.

      • Avatar Mary Lou Davies says:

        Doni, Thursday I was walking with two friends to my car parked in the bottom level of the downtown mall parking lot. As we arrived at the car, there was a stranger in my car. My first reaction was, in a loud voice: "That's my car!" The young man got out quickly, apologizing profusely because he thought it was his sister's car… The driver side door, which was where he was, was locked, but why wasn't there an alarm? I am so in the habit of locking it that I couldn't remember if I had locked it or not. The guy was speaking with an accent I did not recognize, and suspected it was fake. It worked: I was working so hard to decipher the accent that I can't remember much! I wanted him to go and he did. I can't say where. I was checking out the car to reassure myself that nothing was missing, including my garage opener. He had checked out the trunk (and left it open) and was going through the glove compartment when we arrived. We did make a police report 1) so someone else would be aware that there were problems in that place; 2) so the guy might be suspected if found by the police at some other suspicious place. I think I saw him yesterday in front of the downtown Safeway, but I can't be sure. I think I would be a lousy witness.

  12. Avatar funnygirl says:

    Thank you so much for letting us know..and I want to add so sorry for the people who got hurt..it is pretty bad when u can't take a stroll any where..now adays..be safe and please be aware….

  13. Avatar Heisenberg says:

    I made no mention of the parties involved. I say the story is just that, a story. She did you no justice by writing paragraphs about herself. Though she made the situation known, she should have stuck to the facts, not given a recount of her evening that "just so happened" to involve two people getting punched in the face. It's a shame that it happened at all. It's more of a shame that this was mostly about the author's life, not your own… I was not trying to be rude, I just thought this was a local news outlet and not someone's blog?

    • Avatar Canda says:

      anewscafe.com is a locally owned, locally operated news magazine created and run by an award-winning journalist, a woman of integrity and compassion. Most of Doni's readers appreciate the personal touch she ads to so many stories. This particular story did not come from a police press release, but from an event that happened while she was walking on the bridge, therefore making it a personal story.

  14. Avatar Kim Conant says:

    @ Heisenberg-Being the one that was assaulted, I thought her story was excellant. It made for good reading. She set the tone perfect for what happened. And what happened is she was there to take a walk also. She didn't make it up or elaborate on how she got there. Maybe you should read another news outlet, I think she did a great job and people like you, who want only the facts and not the human interest story should maybe not comment, you only makes you look like an apathetic a–!

  15. Valerie Ing-Miller Valerie Ing-Miller says:

    Well, Heisenberg, I think A News Cafe is a little bit different from other news outlets. And while you'll see straight news here from time to time (just the facts, no opinion, no pov), many of the stories here have a deeper connection than straight news, and have a more editorial slant. A News Cafe brings a deeper, personalized connection to what's happening in the community, and I appreciate that . Many of the stories here are humanized in a way that newspapers can't (and aren't supposed to do). It's one of the reasons I write for A News Cafe. Because it's both. Straight news and blog.

  16. Avatar Magnolia Neighborhoo says:

    -Keep strolling our Sundial Bridge, everyone, but please remain alert & don't be afraid to help your fellow bridge walker out when needed. Fear is not a good reason to keep you from enjoying the beauty of a full moon view along the river on a warm night from our Bridge! I've spent hundreds of evenings walking that area, solo & with friends, usually among a well-behaved, happy crowd doing the same.

    -Please provide a follow-up to the story, A NewsCafe, especially if the bad guy is caught.

    Healing wishes extended to the victim. Thank you for covering an incident the Record-Searchlight failed to.

  17. Avatar Kathryn says:

    Great piece of writing about a bizarre event, Doni. What I think is amazing is how easy it is for these "foot soldiers" to do what they please to people on the river trail (and its bridges). I think the city should invest in bicycle patrols, as it used to have, and security on the bridge itself needs some increased spending. Safety in Redding is becoming a constant, troublesome issue. I thought it over last night: but I decided not to take a blue moon walk on the bridge, because I thought it was perhaps unsafe. I based this not on some psychic knowledge but on the fact that in the last six years, we've been on the street having a nice walk when people were stabbed and shots were fired. Thanks for confirming my suspicions. It would help if our city officials were a little more interested in spending on public safety.

  18. Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyde says:

    Excellent article Doni. I really enjoyed the discussion that followed, and particularly appreciated that Kim participated in this discussion. Being assaulted changes the way you see the world. I know this.

    Magnolia Neighborhood Resident has the right idea. Don't curtail your favorite activities because of fear, but be vigilant and aware. Even in a parking lot at the local grocery store.

    Redding is no more dangerous than it was almost 20 years ago when Christine Munroe was murdered on the river trail, and my friend Myong Kim Harris was murdered in her appartment.

    Again, great article Doni.

    • Thanks, Joanne. I am sorry for the loss of your friends, Christine Munroe and Kim Harris … names I only knew from the news. But I think you and others are correct when you say that we need to not allow fear to keep us from going to places we enjoy. Look at South City Park. There was a time when people could actually bring their children there. Now, I wouldn't feel safe walking through that park in daylight. I would hate to think of ever feeling that way about the Sundial Bridge.

      The thing is, in the situation like what happened last night at the Sundial Bridge, the attack was so violent, sudden and unexpected that I think it caught everyone off guard.

      I appreciate so very much personal comments from readers like you, as well as Kim's willingness to join this important conversation and share her insights, just one day after the attack.

  19. Doni, I knew your account of the evening’s bizarre events would be accurate and filled with your trademark touch of humanity. The senseless assault on Kim and Tim was atrocious. But then, we saw strangers join together with an out-pouring of help and concern for the couple. Several people continued to search for Tim’s glasses, both on and underneath the bridge, for an hour after the incident…even offering to come back the next day. Our little community is experiencing big-city problems, but it’s important to remember that the majority of our residents are compassionate, caring people.

    As always, love your writing.

  20. Avatar HONEYBADGER says:

    They downward spiral the people of Redding are witnessing is really nobody's fault but their own. The blatant disregard for the police department in this city. The council spends money on needless rabbit hole after needless rabbit hole and continues to cut public safety. The citizens should let the council know what they want and that is a safe city, but they just keep laying down like sheep and the local politicians continue to waste waste waste. The people get exactly what they deserve. Look at other cities public attractions, there are cops all around, not in Redding. Until this city learns that the local government's responsibility is to provide for the safety of its citizens before and above all else, things will only continue to get worse.

  21. Avatar Jose says:

    Could this person be the culprit? He assaulted two people last night on Hilltop in similar cowardly fashion.

    http://www.shastamugshots.com/mug/lasookwiuk-chee

  22. Avatar Barbara N says:

    Thanks again Doni for another well written story. I wish your walk that night, of the Blue Moon, on the bridge, could have just been a story of everyone you got to meet that night. As you put on your lipstick, maybe might have met someone…new and special…but no, just another incident of Redding's finest. As always, I love the way you write, and that night, although it wasn't what you expected it to be…I appreciate you being the journalist that you are.

  23. Avatar denise says:

    @Jose: I wondered the same thing when I read today's Record Searchlight story. Very similar circumstance.

    @Doni: great story.

    @ Whosen heimer: Go back under the bridge, Troll.

    I wanted to underscore the idea to not stay home all balled up in fear. If the good guys stay home, the bad guys have "won".

    It's not lost on me that much of Redding's violence is about known assailants attacking their own family members or associates. Stranger danger is not as prevalent. Not sure what my point here is. Get out the door mat that reads, "Friends Welcome! Family Go Away!" Hmmmm???

    This Blue Moon case seems pretty random; typically transient types are not this violent. Usually they are the ones getting attacked.

    My heart goes out to Kim & Tim. Let's keep coming out and being there for each other!!!

  24. Avatar Kim Conant says:

    I want to thank everyone for their well wishes of mine and Tim's recovery. We really appreciate the support.

    It was a random act. It was very unexpected and violent, It was done by someone who had no regard for his fellow man. But it did happen. So I want everyone to be aware of there surroundings. You can't always know when a violent person will cross your path. But just know they are out there.

    I also want to thank Doni for all of her support and kindness and accuracy in reporting this story.

    It will not deter us from doing the things that we like to do. We are not the kind of people to stay home afraid. So we will heal and keep living life as we see fit, not in fear.

  25. Avatar pmarshall says:

    I hope that Redding isn't catching up with other cities that seem to have a lot of crime. I think porably, we don't know the half of it. So sorry those folks had to get punched. It was good that everyone came to thei aid. I'm really not that brave to walk at night; almost don't want to walk in the daytime by myself. I have no weapons, but maybe the foot on the balls might just work, Doni. Funny how there are always those who have to critisize.

  26. Avatar cody hunt says:

    @Kim i'm glad that you and Tim are doing better and my sincere apologies that this would happen at such a nice place to take family and friends to exercise and take in the beautiful scenery. I'm the security guard that was on duty like Doni said in her report this is the second time anything ever like this has happened in the year and a half I've been working there and its a shame that people like you and Tim now have to be on your guard to go to such a beautiful place we have in Redding.

  27. Avatar Mary Lou Davies says:

    You know in the old days there were foot patrols by the police, I think they called it the beat. That would be unpleasant in Redding on a summer afternoon (except in the bottom section of the downtown parking lot), but in the evening it could be done. A police presence used to be a social event as well as a promise of law and order. Oh, well.

  28. Avatar Name says:

    It is to bad that nobody was carrying a gun – they could have ended it quickly and done everyone a huge favor.

  29. Hey all, looks like Jose was correct….the man who later that same night assaulted a couple on North Market has been arrested for the attack on Tim & Kim.

  30. Avatar KarenC says:

    Even if you carry a gun, you have been trained that unless your life is in immediate danger, the best thing to do is retreat. You are not trained for this type of situation. Is your bullet the type that will stop when it hits that person or will it go right through and into the next person? If you expose your gun, is the person next to you who also carries going to think you are the bad guy and pull his or her gun on you. Is the officer going to shoot you because he sees a gun in your hands. This is not as easy as it sounds. So again…unless YOUR life is in immediate danger, it is best to retreat and let law enforcement to their work.

  31. Avatar Graham Nehls says:

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you so much, However I am having troubles with your RSS. I don’t know why I can't join it. Is there anybody else having identical RSS issues? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!