The Independent released the following statement to local media at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday:
Our first concern is of course the health and well-being of Erin. She’s a member of our family and she suffered serious physical injuries yesterday. We worry that she may have long-term health repercussions. That said, we think it’s important that Lafayette understands that only one person is responsible for this incident: Dr. Glenn Stewart. He’s a physician, and he beat a 41-year-old mom and school teacher into unconsciousness and then stood over his unconscious victim and snapped photos of her with his cell phone. And when he was done, he repaired the damage to his float rather than the damage he inflicted on his victim. Our community needs to be protected from Glenn Stewart.
[Editor's Note: This story was again updated at 2:25 p.m. to reflect an interview with Jeremy Royer, who witnessed the incident from a float next to Stewart's.]
|Mugshot courtesy Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office|
At left is Dr. Glenn Stewart's mug shot from his arrest late Tuesday night on a second-degree battery charge for punching Erin May Fitzgerald in the face. Citing eyewitnesses, KATC-TV3 reported that she was hit twice by Stewart. However, another eyewitness has just told The Ind he saw Stewart deliver a single punch to Fitzgerald's face, knocking her out. That witness, Jeremy Royer, also saw Stewart throw a jello shot at Fitzgerald when the doctor was still on the float and first realized she was trying to remove the banner. Royer confirms what other witnesses say, that Fitzgerald was leaving the area when Stewart approached her directly. In other words, she was not collateral damage in another altercation. "Erin was backing off. She was walking away," Royer says. "She turned around, and that's when he swung and hit her. He went dead after her, and she took it right in the face."
Below is a sequence of photographs taken at the scene by John St. Julien, the victim’s stepfather, who lives near the Simcoe Street area where floats gathered early Tuesday in preparation for the Independent Parade (which is not affiliated with The Independent newspaper). Mardi Gras morning this newspaper contacted St. Julien, whose hobby is photography, when photographer Robin May was unable to get to the float to capture images of Stewart’s tasteless display before the parade rolled. Fitzgerald arrived at the float separate from her stepfather. The image captured from behind Stewart as he straddled his unconscious victim to photograph her was taken by an eyewitness who turned his photographs over to The Independent. This newspaper will have more information on the brutal attack in next week’s paper and will update the story as more information becomes available.
|Glenn Stewart dismounts the float to pursue Erin May Fitzgerald. Note the tan leather loafers.|
|Note the tan loafers again. The victim is unconscious with Stewart standing over her.|
|A shot from the rear shows Stewart using his cell phone to photograph his unconscious victim.|
|A shot taken simultaneously from a different angle establishes Stewart's identity as the person photographing the unconscious victim. Note the angle of the shoulder and arms in this and the previous photograph.|
|The victim, Erin May Fitzgerald, regained consciousness about five minutes after the attack.|
Photo by Robin May
Stewart, above left, enjoys a pleasant ride along the Mardi Gras route following the attack.
[Editor's Note: below is the original story, published online Wednesday at 8 a.m]:
Late Tuesday evening, investigators with the Lafayette Police Department arrested Dr. Glenn Stewart, 53, for his vicious attack on 41-year-old elementary school teacher Erin May Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, the mother of three young children, is the daughter and stepdaughter, respectively, of Independent Co-Publishers Steve May and Cherry Fisher May.
Stewart, who is 6-foot-4 and weighs 240 pounds, was arrested on a second-degree battery charge, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. If convicted on the felony charge, Stewart could lose his medical license.
The Independent has obtained images showing the retired radiation oncologist hovering over an unconscious Fitzgerald and taking pictures of her. At no point did the medical doctor attempt to render aid.
Stewart was initially cited with disturbing the peace by fighting, but the charge was upgraded to a felony after police investigated and discovered that he had knocked Fitzgerald unconscious. “The doc knocked the woman out cold,” said one eyewitness, who told The Independent he gave a statement to police.
“It was real intense; he had no reason to hit her whatsoever,” another eyewitness told KATC-TV3. “Just because she tore down a banner, it doesn’t give you the right to hit a woman, slap, push. He just cold-clocked her.” Witnesses told the station Stewart punched Fitzgerald in the face not once, but twice.
Fitzgerald was taken to a local hospital and treated for her injuries.
The incident was prompted by a Mardi Gras float Stewart entered into the Independent Parade (which is not associated with The Independent newspaper) featuring Cherry Fisher May as the “driver” of the float with the warning: Caution!!! Float Driven by Cherry Fisher May. Stewart also ran Fisher May’s mug from her 2010 DUI arrest, the banner Fitzgerald had attempted to remove from the float while it was parked in the 600 block of Surrey Street before the parade got under way. Read here for more on Stewart’s relentless retaliation against this paper for its coverage of an agricultural tax loophole he took advantage of for his Parc Lafayette development at the corner of Kaliste Saloom Road and Camellia Boulevard.
Fitzgerald was issued a misdemeanor citation for disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct, and her stepfather, 60-year-old John St. Julien, was cited for misdemeanor disturbing the peace by fighting.
Stewart's bond was set at $25,000, and he has been released from jail.
We will have more on this developing story in today’s INDsider.