Japp's manager recovering from serious head injury after parking lot assault
OVER-THE-RHINE, Ohio (WKRC) - Cincinnati Police are asking for help identifying the suspect of a vicious weekend assault in an Over-the-Rhine parking lot.
Police say Jennifer Watts was an innocent bystander who witnessed a minor car accident and was punched by the driver who saw her friend trying to take a picture of the fender bender.
Watts, the general manager of Japp’s, hit her head in the parking lot and suffered a brain hemorrhage. She is recovering from brain surgery.
Danny McPherson, a Japp’s bartender says he was walking Watts to her car in the parking lot at 1133 Sycamore after closing the bar early Sunday morning. They witnessed a man arguing with police officers outside the Tree House Bar. When they got to Watt’s car, they saw the same man get in a car, take off quickly and hit another car.
“I got out my phone to take a picture of the license plate,” McPherson said Tuesday morning at Japp’s. He says the man then got out of the car. “And before I could get my camera to operate he has already hit Jen. I mean he went out of his way to hit Jen first instead of me.” He then knocked McPherson’s phone out of his hand and took off in his car.
Watts tried to play down her injury but was convinced to go to the hospital. On the ambulance ride it became clear that she had suffered a brain injury. Watts’ sister tells Local 12 that doctors discovered that she was suffering a brain hemorrhage. She says they temporarily removed a portion of her skull to relieve pressure on the brain. She says her sister is recovering and now has 3 metal plates in her skull.
“Jen is one of the sweetest, kindest most genuine people you will ever meet and she’s a little bit sassy,” said Japp’s owner Molly Wellman. “She is our Mama, General Manager, hero, leader. Everything. She is our everything.” Wellmann said Watts’ recovery is progressing. Watts texted her boss Tuesday morning and complained about her shaved head. Wellmann says the assault was unprovoked and inexcusable.
“I’m a pretty happy person but as happy as I am I’m so pissed off you couldn’t even imagine.” She encourages people to pray for Watts and help police find the man who hit her.
“This could have been anyone of us or our loved ones,” said McPherson. “And with this guy still out there, if he gets away with it he’s emboldened to do it again.”
Anyone with information about the assault or the suspect are encouraged to call CrimeStoppers at 513.352.3040.
The suspect’s picture and image of his car are attached to this story.