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DULUTH – The Duluth firefighter who has been charged with attacking a 65-year-old woman after she asked him to leash his dogs has been placed on paid leave pending an internal investigation, according to Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj.

Conrad J. Sunde, 48, has been charged with fifth-degree assault, a misdemeanor, and animal running at large, a petty misdemeanor.

Police say Sunde was riding his bike on a trail on the west side of town Friday morning with three off-leash dogs when he encountered the victim, who was on foot and asked him to put the dogs on a leash. He attacked the woman with his bike and caused injuries to her face, according to the Duluth Police Department.

A friend of the victim who coaches a group she’s in, Eve Graves, said it was a trail the woman hikes and runs almost daily, and the two have crossed paths before. One of the dogs had routinely growled and barked at the woman, and on Friday she asked the man to leash it.

“He immediately popped a wheelie and hit her in the chest with his bike, then got off of his bike and straddled her, grounding her face into the rocks,” Graves said.

The woman was carrying pepper spray, but the nozzle was broken when she was hit with the bike.

Krizaj did not have further comment on the case.

Hermantown prosecutor Shawn Reed has taken over the case from Duluth city attorneys.

No court dates have been set.