NEW ORLEANS - The wounds on Jim Coningsby's face are beginning to heal, but the memory of his attack still haunts him.
Coningsby was hospitalized after he was beaten with a hammer while heading home from a friends going away party at Pal's Lounge in Mid-City.
Coningsby was walking in the 600 block of N. Hagan Street near Bayou St. John just before midnight June 27 when a man got out of a gray sedan with Oregon plates andasked for directions.
Before Coningsby could verbally respond, the man struck him in the face.
'He fractured quite a bit of my face in and around the eye here and near the cheek bone,' said Coningsby. 'He was saying that he was going to kill me and all that. I knew he was going to keep trying to hit me until I got the hammer from him.'
And that's what Coningsby did. He wrestled the attacker to the ground before the man drove off. Doctors had to put five plates in Coningsby's fractured face, and fear his vision may never be the same.
But Coningsby knows it could have been much worse.
'Theres no reason to hide in doors because this kind of thing happens,' he said. 'I'm optimistic he'll get caught, I hope he and others like him get the message that people in New Orleans are sick and tired of this kind of thing happening.'
Police said the crime is especially unusual because the attacker didn't try to rob Coningsby.
Coningsby said that's his biggest concern going forward.
'My concern is that with it being a random attack that other people in Mid City or the whole city are in danger of being attacked by him again,' he said.
'There is a concern, if it's truly just a random attack like that, it is a concern because we don't know why this person would have done such a thing,' said Sgt. Troy Williams of the NOPD 1st District.
Coningsby, originally from Virginia, has dedicated himself to helping New Orleans rebuild from Hurricane Katrina. He was one of Gambit's 40 under 40 last year. This crime, he said, just motivates him to work harder.
'So much of my life has been using things like a hammer to be constructive and helping people come home, and for him to do something so destructive with that tool I use every day is sort of an interesting parallel.'
Coningsby was texting a family member just before the attack. He warns others to take cabs late at night, and pay attention to their surroundings.
Meanwhile, Coningsby said police told him a detective was not assigned to his case until four days after the incident happened.
'What I've witnessed personally is that very dedicated smart police officers and detectives lack the resources and tools they need to really effectively fight crime,' said Coningsby. 'At the very least I hope to use my experience to help advocate for the police so they can get the things they need.'
'If the detective that's going to be assigned a case isoff for some reason, whetherit's his regulardays off orhe's got training or something,the detective that responds that night, inthis case there were two detectivesthat were out there that night,they handle the case until the assigned detective can get his handon the case and run with it.'
Police said they plan to release surveillance video of the gray sedan leaving the scene in the coming days. Coningsby was able to secure the video in the days after the attack from a nearby property.
The suspect is described as a white man in his mid-20s, approximately 5'8', 140 lbs, with curly brown hair .
If you have any information, you're asked to call NOPDor Crimestoppers at 822-1111.