The punch heard 'round the state

by Leslie Turk

Media outlets across the state are reporting more details of the Mardi Gras incident that put Ind publisher's daughter in hospital and has doc-turned-developer Glenn Stewart facing a felony battery charge.

The Mardi Gras day incident that put Erin May Fitzgerald in the hospital and has Parc Lafayette developer Dr. Glenn Stewart facing a felony battery charge for punching her in the face continues to generate widespread interest among readers - so much so that The Ind's site crashed last night and has been down intermittently Thursday (yes, we have purchased additional bandwith). The site broke records Wednesday night, with 10,258 visitors, according to Google Analytics.

Mugshot courtesy Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office

Word of Stewart's arrest has been reported across the state; he faces a felony battery charge for sucker-punching Fitzgerald into unconsciousness after she tried to remove a banner from his Mardi Gras float. The float had several references to the 2010 DUI arrest of Ind Co-Publisher Cherry Fisher May, Fitzgerald's stepmother. Fitzgerald is the daughter of Ind Co-Publisher Steve May.

The violent episode has generated widespread local coverage, as The Advertiser filed three stories today, including this front pager with more details on the incident, and The Advocate led its Acadiana page with the headline, "Doctor jailed on felony count."

KATC TV-3, which had reporter Chris Welty on foot following Stewart's float the entire distance of the parade, also filed updates yesterday. While still on the float and with his back to Welty, Stewart would not comment or acknowledge the TV reporter at the end of the parade. Instead, the Parc Lafayette developer flicked his cigarette over his shoulder in Welty's direction as the reporter held his mic up to Stewart and asked for a response to eyewitness accounts that he punched the 41-year-old school teacher in the face. This post-parade incident, which the station did not report, was witnessed by this Ind editor. It was at least the second such action by Stewart that day, as witnesses to the initial violent episode say he threw a jello shot from atop his float at Fitzgerald when he realized she was trying to remove the offensive DUI banner.

Watch the station's 6 p.m. report: