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Man badly beaten during robbery in Tigerland area

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POSTED: Friday, March 9, 2012 - 5:00am

UPDATED: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 1:08pm

THIS IS AN NBC33 NEWS UPDATE: Gunner Williamson was officially pronounced dead on Saturday, March 12, 2012. An autopsy to determine the exact cause of death has been scheduled for Monday morning.

ORIGINAL STORY: A quick walk to the store to buy a soft drink turned dangerous for Gunner Williamson, a 23-year-old man living in the Tigerland area.

“He told his girlfriend that he was going to walk to the store to get a Coke,” Gretchen Darone, a family member of Williamson, explained. “He walked to the store, but he never made it back.”

Darone believes that Williamson was attacked, beaten and robbed just a short distance away from his apartment. It was a walk he made because his car was broken down and not running at the time.

“Someone found him on the side of the road in a ditch,” she continued. “He was beaten badly.

“They stole his wallet, so he didn’t have any identification. He had a wrist band on in the hospital that said, ‘John Doe.’”

The incident happened sometime around 1:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 8. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first tragedy experienced by this family. One year ago, Williamson’s older brother passed away after a traffic accident. Now, with the death of the youngest son, Darone says it’s almost too much for his mother to handle.

“His mother, Robin, fainted in the hallway at the hospital,” she recalled. “That was her baby. We can’t get her to eat. We can’t get her to do anything.”

This tragedy is one the family never expected. In fact, Darone says Williamson moved to the area about a month ago from a part of Zachary that she says is considered far more dangerous.

“He just moved away to get away from all that - the shootings, the violence, the crime,” she said. “He had friends down there. And yeah, he knew there was crime, but not like that. He moved near LSU because that’s supposed to be a good area.”

This is not the first case reported recently in the area.

One week ago, a local musician Chris Dibenedetto was driving home from a show at Chelsea's Café in the early morning when he says he was attacked by four or five men and robbed. It happened on East Boyd Street at around 3:00 a.m.

A few days after the incident happened, Dibenedetto posted a picture of his serious injuries to Facebook, which quickly went viral.

"Just please travel in packs, be aware that traps are being set up for innocent people to get hurt, and please, please spread love to conquer the hate,” he wrote in the caption with the photo.

This message now echoed by Darone and family members of Gunner Williamson.

“Be careful - don’t go out late at night by yourself. People are out there doing this and they have to be stopped.”

Darone wants to spread the word that the only way the violence will stop is if people step up and become aware of what’s happening around them.

“Someone saw something. A fight happened. That’s a highly populated area, especially at that time of night. If you saw anything at all, please tell someone.”

If you know anything about either of these investigations, please call Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-STOP (7867).

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