published Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Reward offered on attack suspects

REWARD

Chattanooga police have issued the following statement asking for help:

"A $5,000.00 reward has been offered by a Valleybrook resident for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the beating of a resident of the community on Aug. 11. Call 423-698-3333 if you have any information about this attack. Your call will be handled anonymously and your identity will be protected."

A sense of normalcy is slowly returning for residents who live in Valleybrook Golf and Country Club.

But that's the last thing resident Russell Webster wants at the moment.

About two weeks ago, 59-year-old Thad Mason was brutally beaten by a group of four to five teens in a wooded area at the Hixson neighborhood.

Mason, who is waiting on a heart transplant, was carrying a battery to support a device that helps pump blood to his heart when he was bludgeoned with a baseball bat near his yard, which borders the golf course. Police say a group of youths between 15 and 18 years old asked him for his wallet and, when he said he didn't have it on him, beat him.

No arrests have been made.

"I'd damn sure like to have them ID'd to let them know and everyone else know you can't beat up old people walking on the golf course," Webster said. "We just can't have our neighborhood terrorized like that."

Webster, one of Mason's neighbors, has been in talks with Chattanooga police and he recently put up a $5,000 reward for anyone who submits information leading to the arrest and conviction of the youth responsible for Mason's beating.

The youth are described by police as having average builds, long hair and baggy pants, according to Chattanooga police.

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd said the money may motivate people to help although in a case like this, people may come forward because it's the right thing to do.

"We have some suspect leads we're working on," he said Thursday.

Mason, who was initially hospitalized after the attack, was released a few days later. He sustained a broken nose, broken jaw, abdominal bruising and numerous contusions, his brother, 64-year-old Bob Mason said.

"He's doing OK," his brother said. "I think he's having some mental problems with it. He's scared to go out the door, which is understandable."

With a broken jaw, Mason, who is already below his normal weight, is on a liquid diet, is brother said.

"This is not helping things at all," he said.

A couple days after the Aug. 11 attack, the brushy area from where the youth emerged was cleared by landscapers. Residents who normally walked in neighborhood cautiously stayed inside, Webster said. Just this week, residents began to venture out again.

"I just personally want to send the message: We're not going to let this thing die. We're going to see justice done if we can," he said.

In the meantime, the Masons continue to heal.

"I just wish they could catch those guys," Bob Mason said. "I just don't know what the answer is, but these boys need to be caught. If it blows over, they're going to go back to what they were doing, which is picking on ... helpless people."

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