Reward offered for in boy’s beating

Published 7:11 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The father of a St. Stanislaus High School football player is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest in the boy’s beating.

Tyler Gardner played linebacker for the school and loved athletics before a beating nearly seven months ago left him with severe head trauma.

Shawn Gardner said Tyler is recuperating at home but not yet able to walk.

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He’s offering a $5,000 reward for information.

Tyler was critically injured Dec. 30 in an early morning fight in Diamondhead. No one has been arrested.

“That’s why I’m willing to put up the reward money,” Gardner said. “While I’m very pleased that my son is getting better day by day, I want whoever did this to him to face justice.”

Greg Payne of Mississippi Coast CrimeStoppers Inc. said the tip-line program will work with the Gardners. CrimeStoppers pays up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest on a felony crime.

Tyler Garden was in a coma for weeks after the assault, followed by several weeks at a rehabilitation center. He is undergoing outpatient therapy and performs physical therapy at home. Members of the Rockachaws football team surprised him with a visit to sing “Happy Birthday” when he turned 17 on June 22.

“It meant a lot to him,” his father said.

Investigator Rita Blaize-Watson of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department said the case has been turned over to the District Attorney’s Office for review and will be presented to a grand jury.

“There are extenuating circumstances I can’t discuss,” she said, “but my heart goes out to Tyler and his family. He has overcome a lot of odds and I’m grateful he’s alive. I wish him the best.”