CHICAGO (CBS) — An argument between a pedestrian and a driver escalated into a fight with a baseball bat on Tuesday night.

Now, a 56-year-old man is hospitalized and police are searching for a suspect.

CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports.

The incident began around 10 p.m. at the intersection of Palmer and Pulaski in the Hermosa neighborhood. It escalated when a driver beat Ray Russell so severely in the head with a bat that he was in a medically induced coma Wednesday.

“Ray is not doing too well,” says James Hoskins, director of support services for St. Andrews Court, a housing and services center. “It’s very sad because, he doesn’t even look like Ray, from the happy-go-lucky guy I saw yesterday, passing out candy to the kids. My heart was just broken. I couldn’t even stay in the hospital room, no more than about 10 minutes.”

Police say Russell was crossing the street when he got into an argument with a driver. That’s when the driver got out and beat Russell in the head with a baseball bat.

“I couldn’t possibly understand what Ray could have done to invoke that kind of crime,” says Erwin Mayer, executive director of St. Leonard’s Ministries.

Russell had been living at St. Leonard’s House, a halfway house on the Near West Side, after serving time in prison.

“Ray took advantage of all of the programming, all of the services that we have available here,” Mayer says.

Russell, who is 56, recently moved into his first apartment, at St. Andrews Court and was being considered for a job as a maintenance worker.

“At a time that he is trying to get his life together, it could be ended,” St. Andrews Administrator David Rosa says. “We’re just praying that it doesn’t.”

Russell remains in critical condition. Meantime, Chicago police are looking at area surveillance video, with the hopes of developing leads in the case.

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