Shovel-wielding man who tried to burn Redding house down and threatened officers arrested

REDDING, Calif. — Authorities say an axe and shovel-wielding man who tried to set fire to a Redding home with people inside it was arrested after telling responding officers he was going to kill them Wednesday evening, July 29.

Officers were forced to use less-lethal bean bag shotgun rounds to take the violent and confrontational man down, after he advanced on them while swinging the shovel he had just used to break out a window at the residence where he started the fire.


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Redding Police Officers were dispatched to a private residence on the 5000 block of Eastside Rd. in south Redding just after 8:30 p.m., after receiving the report of a man holding an axe while standing in front of the home.

The 911 caller told SHASCOM emergency dispatchers that the alleged suspect, later identified as 56-year-old, Robert Hardberger, of Redding, was threatening the occupants of the residence and saying he wanted to kill the police.

For the third time this year, Robert Hardberger was arrested after a violent confrontation with officers. RPD photo

In an effort to de-escalate the situation, officers staged nearby the scene of the call but stayed out of sight; while allowing the 911 caller to continue communicating with him and trying and resolve the situation peacefully, Redding Police Sgt. Todd Cogle has since said of the incident and arrest.

Despite the 911 caller’s effort to calm Hardberger and persuade him to go home peacefully, “Hardberger armed himself with a shovel, broke out a window to the residence and began directing racial slurs towards a subject of African American descent inside the residence,” explained Cogle.

Hardberger then threatened the lives of others inside the home and began lighting a fire in the backyard of the home.

Based on the immediate danger to the residents inside the home, officers rushed into the backyard.

Hardberger had managed to start a fire next to the home and had left a gas can in the path of the fire, according to Cogle.

Although officers managed to quickly extinguish the small fire, Hardberger – who was found to be wearing a helmet, knee pads, and overalls – was still threatening to kill the occupants of the residence.

Hardberger, who Cogle described as “extremely intoxicated … (and) … completely non-compliant”, was still armed with the shovel and began challenging officers to confront him, while threatening to kill them as well.

Although Redding PD’s K-9 Chase was on scene, the police service dog was not released because officers believed Hardberg would use the shovel to strike him, according to Cogle.

As the confrontation escalated, Hardberger slowly began closing the distance between himself and the officers; while continuing to swing the shovel at them and refusing officers’ commands to drop the potential weapon.

When Hardberger got close enough to the officers to pose an immediate threat, an officer at the scene shot him one time with a bean bag shotgun round.

“The bean bag round only agitated Hardberger who continued to advance on officers,” Cogle explained; saying, the advancing man was then shot with two more bean bag rounds.

The second and third bean bag rounds were effective, and Hardberger was taken into custody without further incident, said Cogle.

Hardberger was later transported to Mercy Medical Center for treatment of injuries sustained from the bean bag rounds.

“When he is released from the hospital he will be booked into the Shasta County Jail on charges of vandalism, criminal threats, assault with a deadly weapon, arson, brandishing a weapon, resisting arrest, resisting arrest by force or violence, and a hate crime,” said Cogle.


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Wednesday night’s arrest was Hardberger’s third arrest this year, after having been arrested in May and June.

Hardberger’s May arrest happened after he “recklessly discharged a firearm multiple times,” according to Cogle; who said, “Twenty firearms were seized from Hardberger during this arrest.”

Hardberger was then arrested in June when officers responded to his residence after he brandished a bayonet at a victim while playing what he later described to officers as “Nazi music”.

No other injuries were reported after Wednesday’s arrest.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to contact Redding PD at (530) 225-4200. Callers can refer to incident file number 20R047306 and can remain anonymous.

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Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.