OTR bar manager undergoes brain surgery after violent attack

Jennifer Watts before her attack (Photo: Facebook)
Jennifer Watts before her attack (Photo: Facebook)

OVER-THE-RHINE (FOX19) - The manager of an Over-the-Rhine bar is hospitalized with a serious injury after she was violently attacked while walking to her car, according to Cincinnati police.

"She almost died," said her boss, Molly Wellman, owner of Japp's on Main Street.

Investigators are searching for the suspect who punched Jennifer "Jen" Watts in the face with a closed fist in the 1100 block of Sycamore Street at 12:55 a.m. Sunday, an incident report shows.

Her sister told police she had a brain hemorrhage while at the hospital and is in serious condition, the report states.

One of Japp's bartenders, Danny McPherson, was walking Jennifer to her car when they saw a man arguing with police outside Tree House Bar.

Then he got into a car and took off, but crashed into cars, so McPherson took his IPhone out to take pictures to document it, along with the license plate on the suspect's car.

But before he could get his camera to operate, the suspect punched Jen.

"He hit Jen so hard, she fell to the ground and it cracked her head open," Wellman said.

Jen underwent brain surgery at University of Cincinnati Medical Center and now has three metal plates in her skull, according to Wellman.

"We thought she was going to be brain dead," Wellman said. "She is such a special person. She is such an incredibly important person. When you meet her, she is your best friend immediately, but if you make her mad she has some sass to her, to. She is a tough cookie. She is the most genuine, kind-hearted person.

Crime Stoppers has released a photo of Lucien Lanier in hopes that the public can help apprehend him.

He drove a newer model, tan, four-door sedan.

After police say Lanier attacked Jen, he smacked the bartender's cell phone, got into his car and fled.

Investigators say he is the same man who was "very disorderly" in front of Tree House Bar on Sycamore Street a few moments prior to this incident.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers: 513-352-3040.

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