Beloved Short North artist attacked after helping bartender

Malcolm Jones speaks to 10TV from his hospital bed (WBNS-10TV)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sixty-three-year-old Malcolm Jones has made his mark with his art, much of it documenting the changing streetscapes of the Short North.

It's made him a popular fixture in the neighborhood. But now he's in the hospital following a violent attack in a Short North bar.

The art of Malcolm Jones hangs on the walls of Short North businesses. Over the years, his talent has earned him television time on 10TV and WOSU.

He says the ability to create has been therapeutic, even life-saving.

"Some people say you don't know where you'd be without it, but I'd probably be dead or in jail," he told WOSU-TV.

He calls himself a street artist, often perched along High Street or Goodale Park.

His talent, and charm, earned him a permanent welcome at Mike's Grill.

"He would bring his artwork in here, set up a table, and he wasn't a pushy kind of guy," said manager Mike England. "If people asked questions he would answer them, maybe sell a piece of art."

It was there Thursday afternoon that bartender Roxanne Stevens says Malcolm came to her rescue with a belligerent customer.

"I tried to take his beer, he took it back, and spilled the rest of it on the floor and then was asked to leave, or kind of fought out the door to leave," she said of the customer. "This was me asking someone to leave, that would not, and Malcolm helping him out."

An hour later, witnesses say the man returned, armed with a broken beer bottle.

"He climbed the fence and came the back way in the bar, and blindside me with a bottle in the eye. So here I am in the hospital."

Malcolm spoke to 10TV from his hospital bed Friday, after surgery to save his right eye. His eye socket is fractured, his vision in jeopardy.

"Right now we just don't know the status of will I regain sight or not," he said.

Through his pain, he is able to find cause for gratitude.

"I still have my life, I still have relatively good health. My biggest concern is will I be able to create art again? It's pleasing to please other people, not just see a smile, and people are appreciative of your talent."

England says he is devastated by what happened to his friend, and the prospect of him losing his ability to create.

"It would be a real loss to the community. He's been here so many years and archived so many things by picture. I think it would be a terrible loss to this community and to the art world."

But those who know Malcolm have no doubt, if needed, he'd do the same thing again.

"That's just the kind of guy Malcolm is," said England.

"Thank God for Malcolm," said Stevens. "I love him. I'm praying for him."

Columbus Police says they have identified a suspect in the attack, but still have further investigation before filing charges.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Jones with his medical expenses and recovery.

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