REDDING – It was Fritz and Schmies vs. Hiers and Byers in a late Saturday night street brawl in western Redding, right outside the California Safety Co.
It happened after midnight Saturday, at 12:49 am Sunday morning when Redding Police got a call reporting two people who were lying on the road, apparently struck by a vehicle. Units from the Higway Patrol were summoned to respond as all police units were involved in a critical incident – a mental health patient being transported had become violent and the responding officers were physically attacked trying to restrain him. One officer was wounded in the late Saturday night incident, which happened just a few blocks from the scene of this apparent accident.
CHP officers responding to the scene at the corner of Elmwood and Veda Streets found two men unconscious and suffering from head wounds. An ambulance was summoned, and within a half hour units from Redding police were also on the scene to take over the investigation. The men were identified as 29-year-old John Raymond Fritz and 48-year-old Claude Alexander Schmies, both of Redding. They learned that Fritz was on state parole. Records show he has had multiple arrests of the past 10 years, including charges of burglary, receiving stolen property, resisting arrest, parole violations, and drug charges. He was recently charged in April with a parole violation, driving with a suspended licence, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Schmies is under AB109 post release supervision, with a history of parole and weapons violations.
According to a press release from Redding Police, Fritz and Schmies were driving through the area just off of Market Street when they encountered another pair of young men, identified as 22-year-old Richard James Hiers and 19-year-old Nathan Robert Byers, both also Redding residents. (Hiers is also on probation with Shasta County.) Something set off an argument between the men in the car and the two on the street. The specifics have not been given, but Redding PD stated that alcohol was a factor.
After the initial contact, and likely yelling between the two pairs, Schmies, the driver of the car, stopped and put it in reverse, and “aggressively” backed up toward the two. Fritz and Schmies then both got out of the car, while Hiers and Byers approached them. The argument now became a fight between the men. At some point, Schmies was said to have pulled a large steel flashlight from his car to use as a weapon, and was said to hit Hiers in the head at least once. The fight lasted about four minutes, and despite the flashlight weapon Schmies had, the younger men prevailed, and Fritz and Schmies were left unconscious in the street.
Byers and Hiers, no doubt shook up but happy to be standing, quickly ran to their nearby friend’s house and told them to call 911. The caller reported the men in the street, either implied or interpreted to be accident victims by the dispatcher. In any case, both Hiers and Byers cooperated with police, who took their statements and released them both.
A man interviewed on KRCR TV named Juston Langley stated that he was a witness, and saw one of the two younger men, after initially leaving the two men on the street, come back and kick one of them in the face. A friend of Schmies also contacted us, and stated that “I know for a fact that there was no alcohol or drugs in Claude Alexander “Alex” Schmies, Jr.’s system.”
Schmies was sent in critical condition with a head injury to Mercy Medical Center, where he later died. Fritz is said to be in stable condition with a head injury as well, and was able to speak with investigators on Tuesday. Investigators are also reviewing surveillance video of the incident, likely provided by the California Safety Company, which specializes in security and fire protection equipment. The Shasta County District Attorney is reviewing the case to determine if charges are to be filed and against whom.
Note: This story was originally published with a photo of another Claude Schmies, which was apparently of his father, and not the man involved in this incident. It has since been removed, we regret the error.