Special Olympic athlete struggles to recover after baseball bat assault

Posted at 4:26 PM, Jun 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-15 18:26:24-04

MISSOULA – A well-known Special Olympics athlete is fighting to recover from critical injuries Friday after being assaulted with a baseball bat at a Missoula apartment.

Gary Fuller is one of the most well-known of Special Olympics athletes in Western Montana. He’s been a Global Messenger for the games, serves on the Board for Special Olympics and is a frequent competitor in both the Summer and Winter games events over the years, appreciated for not only his efforts as a competitor, but his enthusiasm and support for the other athletes and his friends.

Gary has also been a regular participant in the Law Enforcement Torch Run that supports the games and is friends with officers around the area.

Family members tell us that Gary was at a friend’s house Thursday night when the assailant suddenly grabbed an aluminum baseball bat and slammed him over the head with it. Gary was taken to the hospital in critical condition, and his father says they performed emergency surgery Thursday night.

At first the family wasn’t “given much hope”, but word is there’s some improvement Friday afternoon as Gary regained consciousness and doctors removed his ventilator. He is recognizing voices and responding to the nurses.

27-year-old Paul Ekstedt is being held on assault charges and is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday. Ekstedt was previously sentenced to three-years in prison for a criminal endangerment case in Lincoln County in 2014.