BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Fair warning. This story is going to make you angry and it should.
Willie James, 65, of Baton Rouge, a man who served his country, was attacked and beaten on the streets of his hometown while simply walking to a doctor's appointment. Unfortunately, the story got even worse from there.
"They had to give him a surgery, on his brain," said Edwina James, the victim's ex-wife. "Plus, his neck was broke. He had two major surgeries."
Willie James was a military veteran, but he didn't get those injuries while serving. He got them on the streets of Baton Rouge. It was the morning of June 21, 2016. Somebody driving down the 2000 block of North Street near North 20th Street found him in the road.
"Saw somebody laying in the roadway, so he stopped to help," said Det. Jeff Anders with the Baton Rouge Police Department. "They found Mr. Willie James suffering from a severe head injury. He was transported to the hospital where he told the nurses he was pistol-whipped and robbed."
It happened right there between I-110 and Florida Boulevard, which is, ironically, right in front of a building set up to help serve veterans. He'd been in the area for years. It was home. Everybody knew him. And, he was walking a familiar route that morning while on his way to catch the bus to make his dialysis appointment.
"They saw him every day," said Katreva James, the victim's daughter. "Same path every day. Dialysis three days a week. If he wasn't doing that, he was working."
Police believe whomever attacked Mr. Willie may have done it before in the same neighborhood.
"We had several other robberies in the area reported. Several black males jumped out of a BMW, dark colored, and robbed another guy. Just a few blocks over. We believe it's the same suspects," Anders added.
Those suspects are now wanted for murder. On the morning of July 3, Mr. Willie succumbed to his injuries. The family is suffering right now. His ex-wife misses their long talks.
"We talked every day, mostly at night. We became the best of friends," Edwina James explained.
That goes for his daughter as well. He was far more than just dad.
"I've been a daddy's girl for as long as I can remember. My dad was literally my best friend. I talked to him all the time," Katreva James stated.
All the time and she can still hear his voice, literally still hear his voice. She managed to save a handful of his voice mails, so she has him with her wherever she goes. He would typically end those message with "Give me a holler."
Give me a holler. Wouldn't that be nice if they could pick up the phone again and talk with him? Wouldn't that be nice if someone would pick up the phone right now and help them?
Anyone with information about this crime is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 344-7867, text CS225 plus your message to CRIMES (274637) or anonymously or go to www.crimestoppersbr.com.