Six months after a brutal beating left Missoula resident Russ Talmo unconscious downtown and sparked outrage in the local community about the unprovoked attack, law enforcement thinks they know who’s responsible.
“There was a warrant issued for his arrest on May 28,” says Missoula Police Department Public Information Officer Travis Welsh.
Police have identified Talmo’s assailant as Stuart Richard Brown, 25. Brown remains at large and, Welsh says, may have returned to Browning, where “he has ties.”
Talmo was pleased to learn that charges have been filed. “It made my day,” he says.
Absent a missing tooth, Talmo’s recovered from the Dec. 7 assault that left him hospitalized for several days. Early that winter morning, Talmo left a graduation party at Charlie B’s with three friends. As they walked south on Higgins, a man approached Talmo from behind and struck him on the back of the head. Talmo again hit his head when landing on the pavement. Witnesses reported the attack was unprovoked and appeared to come out of nowhere.
Talmo sustained bleeding and swelling on the brain, multiple hairline skull fractures and a fractured orbital socket. He also lost a tooth. Doctors used staples to close a gash in the back of the head.
In the days after the assault, locals decried the attack on social media and in news articles documenting the incident. Many wondered publicly how such a random act of violence could occur in Missoula. A community fundraising effort, meanwhile, raised enough money to pay all of Talmo’s medical bills, which, he says, amounted to more than $50,000.
“I was super just blown away and grateful for all of the community support,” Talmo says. He adds that the outpouring of good will far overshadowed the ugliness of the attack. “It’s just really reassuring on a lot of levels.”
Until now, Talmo and his supporters have only been able to speculate about who could be capable of such an assault. Witnesses didn’t actually see the blow land, and Talmo doesn’t remember the incident at all.
Court records indicate that Brown has a criminal record. In 2008, he pleaded guilty in federal court to assault with a dangerous weapon after admitting to beating another man with a baseball bat on the Blackfeet Reservation.