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Duluth firefighter charged with aggravated robbery, felony assault after allegedly attacking woman

The veteran firefighter served a suspension following the July incident and remains actively employed by the Duluth Fire Department, according to the city.

Sunde
Conrad Sunde

A Duluth firefighter has been charged with felony robbery and assault after allegedly attacking a 65-year-old woman along a western Duluth trail this summer.

Conrad John Sunde IV, 49, is accused of striking the victim with his bicycle and taking her phone during the July 10 altercation on the Duluth Traverse Trail System . Authorities said he later admitted his involvement.

Sunde was initially cited for misdemeanor fifth-degree assault. However, that was dropped in favor of aggravated first-degree robbery and third-degree assault charges brought by the St. Louis County Attorney's Office on Thursday.

Sunde served a 30-day unpaid suspension in wake of the incident, according to city spokeswoman Kate Van Daele. He remains actively employed by the city.

"The city is diligently tracking this criminal case, and has no additional information to provide at this time," Van Daele said in a statement to the News Tribune.

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According to the criminal complaint:

Police were called to the victim's residence around 8 a.m. after receiving a report of an assault. The victim, Mary Modec, was bleeding from abrasions above her eye and had a number of cuts and scrapes, including to her knees, wrists and hands.

Modec told police she was out on a morning run when she came upon a man biking with three off-leash dogs. She stated that she was startled by one and asked the man to place them on a leash, as required by city ordinance.

Modec reported that the bicyclist responded by insulting her in vulgar terms. She then attempted to retrieve her cellphone from her backpack in order to take a picture of the man and his unleashed dogs.

The man then lifted up his bicycle and charged at Modec, striking her in the chest with the front tire, she said. The victim fell to the ground and the defendant got on top of her, forcefully pushing her head and face into the gravel. Modec reported that there was a struggle for her phone, and the man was eventually able to take possession of the device.

The suspect then left the scene. Modec, after speaking with police, was treated at St. Luke's hospital for a nasal fracture.

Meanwhile, an officer went to the area of the attack and tried calling Modec's phone. He was able to hear it ringing and was able to recover the device approximately 100-150 feet down an embankment.

Police issued a news release that morning, asking for the public's help in identifying the suspect, before Sunde voluntarily arrived at the West Duluth station. He allegedly admitted to an officer that he had knocked Modec down with his bicycle before taking her phone and throwing it into the woods.

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Sunde is a long-serving member of the Duluth Fire Department, receiving the 2011 Firefighter of the Year Award from the Kiwanis Club of Friendly Duluth. He did not immediately return a call from the News Tribune on Friday, and he did not have an attorney listed.

Sunde, who remains out of custody, is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Nov. 25.

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