French quarter worker beaten unconscious, family desperate for new developments in search for suspect

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 10:42 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Nearly two months since a man was beaten unconscious for accidentally stepping on someone’s shoe, police are still searching for the suspect.

The victim’s family says they’re drowning in medical bills, and they say police are leaving them in the dark on the investigation.

Since the attack, there’s been an empty seat at the bar top of Checkpoint Charlie on Esplanade.

“I was always happy when I saw him,” said bartender Daniel Smith. “I’m not really close to a lot of people, so it’s always nice to have a friend customer once in a while.”

In the early morning hours of September 24th, police say Scott Wagner turned the corner outside the bar near Frenchmen and accidentally stepped on a man’s shoe.

What happened next changed his life forever.

“He was there for about 7 minutes before anyone intervened at all,” Wagner’s nephew, Jonathan Fisher, told Fox 8.

Two weeks after the attack, police released a photo of a suspect, saying the man came up to Wagner from behind and punched him, knocking him to the ground.

He was caught on video repeatedly beating Wagner until he lost consciousness and was left for dead.

Once Wagner’s sisters got the news, they jumped in the car and made the 20-hour drive from Pennsylvania to be by his side.

“He was brought in with a traumatic brain injury. They scale that roughly 1 to 5... 5 being the worst injury you can have,” Fisher said. “She was told that he was at a 5 when he came in.”

Wagner came to New Orleans for a fresh start. His family business gave him extensive restaurant experience. He got a job in the quarter and initiated conversation wherever he went.

“He was really funny...Had a good dirty joke in him,” Smith said. “Over the top.”

Now, he struggles to speak.

“I didn’t want to remember him like that when I saw him,” Smith said.

Almost two months since the attack, police have no new updates to share. Wagner’s family says they’re frustrated by a lack of communication from the investigators.

“It’s probably been about two weeks since we heard anything at all,” Fisher said. “We were kind of told, in so many words, that it was too late by the detective.”

Wagner has extensive rehabilitation on the horizon, and the medical bills are adding up.

“Our understanding right now is that we won’t get any financial support other than that of our friends, loved ones, and those in the community who are rallying around the GoFundMe,” Fisher said.

Scott remains hospitalized, but he’s showing signs of recovery and hope. He’s out of the ICU and recognizes his family, but the road to recovery is long before him.

Some are now calling attention to the persistent violence at the end of Frenchmen.

“This kind of thing happens all the time on the corner,” Smith said. “Late night, people get crazy. Not enough cops in the city.”

Scott Wagner’s family says he is pushing through physical therapy to get him talking and moving again.

“It’s sort of that like, when someone passes away, you see the difference they made,” Fisher said. “Fortunate for us, he didn’t pass away. We get to see that legacy that he has left, without losing him.”

Police say they are still working to identify the suspected perpetrator and accomplice. If you can help, call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.

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