Royston man charged in attack on Broad River kayakers


Justin Matthew Bruce

By Joe Johnson

A 31-year-old Royston man was arrested Friday morning for allegedly attacking a group of kayakers from Athens last week in Madison County.

Four of the kayakers were University of Georgia students and all of them had just completed an outing on the Broad River Saturday evening and were disembarking in an area along Roy Woods Road when they were allegedly accosted by 31-year-old Justin Matthew Bruce.

According to reports, Bruce allegedly approached a male UGA student who had long hair and asked, “So are you a man-bitch or a bitch-man.” A report noted that the student’s hair was worn in a bun.

One of the kayakers reportedly told Bruce they were just trying to get out of the water and asked him why he was talking to them like that, at which time Bruce became extremely aggressive. Stating he would f—k up every one of them up,” according to the report.

Bruce then allegedly jumped down and began attacking one of the male kayakers, at which time the other kayakers jumped on Bruce to try to break up the attack, according to the report.

Bruce then allegedly tried to drown one of the UGA students by holding his head under the water for 35-45 seconds and punched a female victim in the face, causing her to fall into the water, according to the report.

During the incident, Bruce kept saying that he was a U.S. Marine and suffered from PTSD, according to the report.

The suspect is a large man, standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 265 pounds, according to his jail booking report.

The male victim that Bruce allegedly initially attacked received a cut on an ear and a knot on the back of the head, and the female victim had redness and swelling under her left eye, according to the incident report.

All victims refused medical treatment.

“As far as motive, it appears to be alcohol related,” Patton said. “It is unknown if any other factors could have led up to the confrontation.”

Bruce drove off in a pickup truck that had kayaks in its bed, and accompanied by his girlfriend.

Madison County investigators identified Bruce as the suspect by Thursday and obtained warrants charging him with aggravated assault and simple battery, according to Patton, who said the suspect turned himself in Friday morning.

Bruce was being held at the Madison County Jail in Danielsville, awaiting a bond hearing before a Magistrate Court judge, Patton said.

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