Decorated War Veteran Dies Following Teen Assault in Park

A decorated Vietnam War Marine veteran tragically lost his life following an assault by a teenager in a Minnesota park, prompting an official investigation. The incident occurred at Harriet Island Regional Park on January 28, when 76-year-old Thomas Dunne was punched in the face by a young man, according to St. Paul Police.

Dunne and his wife were driving through the park when they noticed a young man urinating in public. Dunne attempted to take a photograph of the act as evidence, leading to a confrontation with the man and two others. The altercation escalated, resulting in Dunne being punched and his phone being taken away.

Upon arrival at the scene, police found Dunne bleeding from his eye due to injuries sustained in the fight. He was immediately transported to a hospital. Despite initial treatment, Dunne’s condition worsened over the following weeks, leading to his death after a prolonged hospital stay.

The severity of Dunne’s injuries was such that the bleeding could not be stopped, police reported. They were able to identify the three males involved in the incident, charging a 17-year-old with first-degree assault.

St. Paul Police Sgt. Mike Ernster stated that the Ramsey County medical examiner’s findings on Dunne’s exact cause of death could take weeks. Depending on the results, the charges against the teenager may be elevated. The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office has also stated that they will review any new evidence to consider additional charges.

Dunne was a respected veteran who served two tours in Vietnam and spent over 20 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve. He was a recipient of the Legion of Merit award for his service. His wife, Heather Broderick, shared with KSTP-TV that Dunne underwent a three-and-a-half-hour operation on his eye following the assault. She had feared he might lose his eye, but never anticipated losing him.

Despite being released from the hospital, Dunne was readmitted the following day due to complications. He remained in the hospital until his death on February 23. Prosecutors are currently considering a petition to try the teenager as an adult.