Coach bloodied in skateboard attack

NORCROSS -- Thom Bailey, a volunteer youth hockey coach, said he frequently shoos skateboarders from the springy, rubberized playing surface his team practices on at Pinckneyville Park.

Bailey said the skaters usually respond by retreating to an adjacent skatepark.

Sometimes he gets a nasty glare and maybe a few cheap, parting words. No big deal.

But on Dec. 28, as Bailey and his two sons, ages 8 and 10, were prepping for a 6:30 p.m. practice at the Norcross park, the 40-year-old Suwanee man met with resistance he didn't see coming.

Bailey, a former skateboarder himself, said tricks performed by skaters destroy the playing surfaces used by his Peachtree Booster Club-sponsored youth league. That evening, Bailey and his sons encountered four young men more stubborn than usual, he said.

"I said, 'Come on, dude, we just want you off the rink,'" said Bailey, coach of the 10-and-under division.

The heavy thud Bailey felt to the back of his head, according to police, was a skateboard swung by 17-year-old Duluth resident Cody Murray. Bailey fell to one knee. The subsequent blows to his face, as police tell it, came from Murray's brother, Alex, 22.

"Basically, within five or 10 seconds my head was bloody and I couldn't see out of my right eye," Bailey recalled.

Persuaded by his screaming sons, Bailey said he regained his footing and again confronted his assailants, this time in the skatepark. A wrestling match ensued, he said, until "they got kind of covered in my blood ... it kind of freaked them out and they left," Bailey said.

Bailey's wife drove him to a Cumming hospital. He received 10 staples to close the gash on his head and eight stitches above his swollen right eye.

Gwinnett police arrested the Murray brothers suspected in the attack Wednesday after Bailey said he spotted them skating next to the rink. Alex is charged with misdemeanor battery, while Cody is being prosecuted as an adult on felony aggravated assault charges.

Cody's skateboard, when used offensively against a person, "actually does result in serious bodily injury," an investigator wrote in Cody's arrest warrant as grounds for the charge.

The two remaining teens will not be charged, said Gwinnett police spokesman Det. J.L. Smith.

"The detective determined (the brothers) were the only two attackers," Smith said.

Bailey said he's recovering from the alleged attack and continues to coach. The only lasting repercussion will be a scar to the back of his head.

"What didn't make sense for these guys is that they have their area (to skate)," Bailey said. "It's not something you expect to have to do in front of your kids. It's just so unwarranted."