Magazine Street barista assaulted by stranger after helping friend with car trouble

Published: Nov. 19, 2023 at 11:52 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The man known at Mojo Coffee for serving lattes with a smile now lives with metal wires locking his jaw in place.

What started out as a favor for a friend turned into a life-altering assault and a pile of medical bills that will only continue to grow.

“It was a harmless situation and all of a sudden it became a very chaotic one,” said Tony Nguyen.

Nguyen struggles to share what happened to him in the early morning hours of November 3.

The neighborhood barista says he and a friend were helping their friend who was locked out of her car near Conti and Dauphine.

He says a tall, older man started hassling them and suddenly started beating his friend. Nguyen remembers stepping in to break up the fight.

He took blow after blow. The man ultimately broke his jaw.

“The doctors, they just went in and removed the wisdom teeth and then they had to wire my jaw shut because it wasn’t properly placed in my mouth,” Nguyen said.

There are two more surgeries ahead of his recovery, one to cut the wires and another to remove the braces.

Carly Hammond works alongside Nguyen at Mojo Coffee on Sundays.

“When you work in the service industry, if you can’t talk you can’t go to work, above and beyond the pain and how horrific it is.,” Hammond said.

When she heard the news of the assault, she started a fundraising campaign for the medical bills.

“Unfortunately, this isn’t the first GoFundMe like this that I’ve done,” Hammon said. “I’ve been in this industry like this since I was a teenager.”

Nguyen is bound to a liquid diet for the foreseeable future. He says he already feels the effects.

“My energy levels are at an all time low,” Nguyen said. “I don’t really feel like doing anything else.”

He’s out of work indefinitely as he heals, but University Medical Center called about the billing right after he was discharged.

“They made sure to contact me about financial assistance programs so I can only imagine,” Nguyen said. “I don’t have a specific number, but I can only imagine how high it’s getting.”

Hammond says there are a lot of people struggling without insurance in New Orleans.

“So, I think the more we can bring a face to that and help people and let people know that there are other citizens out there that are happy to help,” Hammond said.

The NOPD says the investigation is ongoing, but there has been no suspect identified in the case. Nguyen is holding out for justice for the late-night moment that altered his life.

“I just want to be sure to show face that these kinds of things can happen to anybody,” Nguyen said. “We should be wary of dangerous people’s tendencies.”

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