Suspect’s Sucker Punch Injures Alameda Father

San Francisco Police Department    San Francisco police released this sketch of the suspect in the Sept. 8 random attack on an Alameda husband and father of two.

Assault causes critical brain injury

San Francisco police are asking the public’s help in identifying a suspect who punched a 39-year-old Alameda man at First and Howard streets in San Francisco about 11:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 8. 

Christopher and Rebecca Mathews had used a ride-hailing app to call for a car. They were standing at First and Howard, waiting for a ride to “that one last bar to get that one last drink before we went home,” Rebecca Mathews told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Jill Tucker. 

A surveillance camera captured what happened next. Christopher walked up to a white car, thinking it was the ride. The suspect got out and, without warning, punched Mathews, who fell straight back, slamming his head onto the street.

Paramedics transported the father of a two- and four-year-old to San Francisco General Hospital, where he spent the next four days in intensive care at San Francisco General Hospital. Medical imaging later revealed several fractures from the attack. Internal bleeding affected his brain and his brain stem.

Rebecca has returned to her job as an IT professional in San Francisco. She described her life to the Chronicle as “a terrible movie that doesn’t end.” She said that no one knows whether Christopher will make a full recovery from this traumatic brain injury that has impaired his cognitive functioning.

“Some days, he didn’t know who I was. Some days he didn’t know he had kids,” she told the Chronicle. She said that his long-term memory, speech and physical skills have slowly improved.

San Francisco Police Department is asking anyone with information about the incident to call its tip line at 415-575-4444, or send a text to TIP411 with SFPD at the start of the message. Callers can remain anonymous. 

A GoFundMe campaign is raising money to help with expenses. Anyone who would like to help can visit gofundme.com/help-support-chris-mathews. A Sept. 30 update on the GoFundMe page states that Christopher is still at his rehab center, making good progress. Rebecca is researching where he will need to go after leaving the center.