Victims raise awareness of violence off LSU's campus

Chris Dibenedetto
Chris Dibenedetto

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The death of Gunner Williamson, 22, the man believed beaten and left for dead on Bob Pettit Road,  is bringing forward others who have had violent run-ins near LSU's campus.
One of whom says now is the time to start an awareness campaign.

"My lower orbital rim was crushed, had fractures on all sides....popped my cheekbone back in," said Chris Dibenedetto, describing his injuries from an attack in early March.

He says after playing a music gig at a Baton Rouge bar, he headed for a friend's house to sleep for the night.  As he was driving down East Boyd, he swerved to avoid hitting a cement block.  He says his tire popped and he pulled over to check it.  Minutes later, he says he saw some men walking down the street, but thought they were walking to the convenience store.  That's when he says he was beaten.

His eye and face are still swollen.  He underwent five and a half hours of surgery, but he says he's okay.  But he wants others to see him and be aware off campus.

Following the incident, he posted a picture of his swollen face on his Facebook page.  He says he's received positive and negative feedback.  Some he says have noticed extra patrols in the area.

"Had numerous people thank me for spreading awareness," he said.  

Dibenedetto says when he was a freshman at LSU, people talked about sections off campus where violence was happening.  He says he had a friend held up at gunpoint in front of her dorm, but he never expected to be part of the story.  He wants the university to make students aware of what is happening nearby.

One family says they are already aware.

"After he got hit, broke free and ran.  Chased him down, started beating and kicking him until he was unconscious," said Willie Matherne.

Matherne's stepson was badly beaten as he walked back to his car on Burbank, following the LSU football game the day after Thanksgiving.  Isaiah Laborde's nose was broken in four places, among other neck and spine injuries.

Matherne says police told his son he was the second beating that day.  "The police officer said yes, this happened earlier today.  We're looking for those individuals."

Now, he says every time they hear of such violence, it reminds his family of what they went through.  And they hope their story also serves as a warning, not to travel alone off campus.

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