Country Guitarist Jay Lawless Brutally Beaten in Attack

photos: Will Steven / Jacqueline Jacobs

Southern California-based country guitar player and teacher Jay Lawless was brutally beaten by unknown assailants and for unknown reasons in the Orange County city of Westminster near his home. Assaulted to within an inch of his life and left for dead, it has put Lawless in an Intensive Care Unit, and the music community that Lawless was a part of in shock and looking for answers.

Lawless was the guitar player for the nationally touring band Highway from the early 2000’s, and more recently was playing in the local band Redneck Rodeo. Lawless was also known and beloved as a guitar teacher, not just teaching young and old how to play, but teaching many professional players, as well as other guitar teachers at the Fountain Valley Music Center and other music schools in Southern California.

Jay Lawless potentially sustained brain damage in the assault, and suffered brain bleeding due to the blunt force trauma to the frontal lobe (forehead). Both of his orbital sockets were shattered, his jaw and nose were broken, as well has his cheekbones. Lawless also lost all but one of his teeth in the assault, with the final one eventually being removed as well. He also sustained broken ribs, a bruised lumbar and cervical spine, broken fingers and broken knuckles, damage to his lungs, along with bruises and cuts throughout his body.

“He’s not a fighter. He’s never been in a fight in his life,” says friend of Jay Lawless, Jacqueline Jacobs, who has started a Go Fund Me for the musician. “He didn’t stand a chance. They didn’t expect him to live, whoever did this. I don’t know if it was because he was mistaken for somebody else, and someone decided to try to kill him. He’s not the person that creates any problem with somebody at all, let along somebody that would get him in a situation like this. He’s just not that person.”

At the present there are no suspects in the assault, and no known motive. According to Jacqueline Jacobs, at the trauma center, they believe the assault Lawless experienced must have come from two baseball bats. “The kind of trauma he suffered was not possible by human hands,” she says. He is booked in an ICU under an alias for his protection.

Since Jay Lawless currently cannot speak, he is unable to communicate what happened, and his arms and legs are only mildly responsive to commands. What seems apparent is that it was not an attempt at a robbery or theft.

“He had a expensive electric bike that he rides around when he’s drinking,” Jacobs says. “He had his wallet, he had his keys, his phone, his watch on still, he had cash on him. They didn’t take anything from him. He was not getting mugged … We have absolutely no idea. Absolutely not a clue why this happened.”

About 18 months ago, Jay’s father passed away, and he moved in with his mom who is in a wheelchair. It was near his mother’s house in Westminster where the assault is believe to have occurred late on Friday, May 27th . Miraculously, Jay was able to make it back to the house, and that’s when 911 was called. Friends and family at first did not make Jay’s condition public, because it was unclear if he would pull through the incident.

Family and friends of Jay Lawless have also been very frustrated at the lack of progress from the local Westminster police department in the investigation. Over two weeks after the incident, and there have been no arrests, and little progress in the investigation. There also were no media reports on the incident until Tuesday, June 14th when ABC7 in Los Angeles ran a brief story. Lawless was also removed from the ICU on Tuesday and is finally able to open his eyes, but has a long road to recovery ahead of him.

Saving Country Music has reached out on numerous occasions to the Westminster Police Department for information and comment, and those calls have not been returned.

“He is never unkind,” says Jacqueline Jacobs. “He will sit and teach guitar to any stranger. He will sit outside of a restaurant, a bar, a school, a grocery store, wherever he is and sit there and teach them how to play guitar.”

A benefit concert for Jay Lawless is in the planning stages, and to contribute to the Go Fund Me, CLICK HERE.

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