Crime

He tried to stop a young man hitting his wife, family says. Now he’s died from his injuries.

Arnold “Red” Jackson, left, and Garrett James Ward
Arnold “Red” Jackson, left, and Garrett James Ward

As the father of two daughters, 60-year-old Arnold “Red” Jackson couldn’t help but intervene one night when he spotted a man beating a woman on the St. Charles Avenue sidewalk, family members say.

So Jackson stepped in to help — only to be severely beaten himself by a much younger man, Jackson’s daughter and her mother said Wednesday.

Jackson died last week after spending several days in the hospital. On Wednesday, Garrett James Ward, a 25-year-old commercial real estate agent from Baton Rouge, surrendered to police and was booked on second-degree murder in connection with Jackson’s death.

“I pray and I pray for God to remove all the evil in my heart that he caused me,” Jackson’s daughter Kenyada Schnyder said, referring to Ward. “I don’t wish that on anybody — but I do pray he gets what he deserves.”

Police declined Wednesday to comment on the events described by Jackson’s family, saying the investigation of the Jan. 6 incident is ongoing.

Investigators have said only that officers responding to a 1:30 a.m. call about a beating found “a highly intoxicated” Ward on the upper level of the elevated parking lot next to Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro in the 2000 block of St. Charles Avenue. Witnesses accused him of punching and kicking Jackson several times.

Police documents filed in court allege that Jackson was kicked a couple of times while he was on the ground. The arrest warrant notes that first responders found him still conscious but bleeding from the mouth and moaning for help.

He was taken to a hospital and died from blunt-force injuries Jan. 18.

Officers initially jailed Ward on suspicion of battery, and he quickly secured his release on $10,000 bail. But police secured a warrant to arrest him on suspicion of murder — punishable by life imprisonment — following Ward’s death.

He turned himself in to authorities the day after police announced he was wanted on the upgraded charge.

Schnyder and her mother, Sonya, Jackson’s ex-wife, said that according to a detective on the case and acquaintances who were in the area at the time of the beating, Jackson was attacked when he tried to stop Ward from hitting a woman.

Sonya Schnyder, 57, said her ex-husband loved walking from his Central City apartment in the Guste high-rise to the French Quarter and back in the evenings, and she assumes he was doing that when he stopped at a store he frequented and was attacked.

Kenyada Schnyder said she talked to people who worked at the store and knew Jackson’s full name because he cashed his monthly Social Security checks there.

They told her that Ward was hitting a woman and Jackson asked him to stop.

She also said she spoke with an investigator who relayed similar information.

Jackson was already frail after years of fighting the complications of diabetes, said Sonya Schnyder, who kept in daily touch with her former husband and said she considered him the love of her life.

Jackson couldn’t work and had fallen briefly into homelessness. But he had been living in an apartment for nearly a year.

Kenyada Schnyder said her father had emergency surgery to relieve bleeding in his brain and was on a machine helping him breathe before his organs failed and he died.

“He had been a big fine man when he was young,” Sonya Schnyder said. “But he had gotten real sick a few years ago. He’d lost a lot of weight. I’m guessing he just fell to the ground. He was so fragile.”

Court records detailing Ward’s initial arrest list a couple as witnesses in the case. One of them couldn’t be reached, and the other didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A phone call to a cell phone number associated with Ward went unanswered Wednesday. His bail on the murder count was set at $250,000.

Lindsey Williams, an attorney representing Ward, said in court that he would file a request for reduced bail but declined comment afterward.

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